An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

This is the first novel by Shari Lapena that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. In true murder-mystery style ‘An Unwanted Guest’ traps you with the characters in a hotel caught in a snowstorm, unable to leave. And then, a guest is found dead. Well, the first guest is found dead. Cast your mind to the body count of a typical Midsomer Murders episode and you won’t be far out. But, who is the killer, and why?

I thoroughly enjoyed the traditional Agatha Christie feel of this book, and the tension between the apparent strangers kept me hooked the whole way through. I liked Lapena’s writing style, adding in time and date breaks but also writing from multiple POV’s, but always in 3rd person so there is a continuous narrative but from all angles. I found this rounded out the impact of the plot well, because each character had their own voice to expel suspicions and explanations. Utterly intriguing right to the very end sentence.

Because there was quite a high character count, I didn’t form any particular connections to any of them, but they were all relatable and each had their own idiosyncrasies and merits. I don’t think it was the author’s aim for the reader to side with anyone, because the format oozed misdirection and you found yourself forming your own opinions naturally and these switched regularly as each development was enlightened in the investigation.

Twisty and tense in a deserted location – perfect domestic thriller territory! As the relationships between the hotel dwellers and their fellow guests progressed, I was kept enthralled and captivated. ‘An Unwanted Guest’ comes recommended, especially on a cosy Sunday afternoon under a blanket with a hot beverage. There is no escape, but once you’re hooked in, you yourself won’t want to leave until you know the truth – GJ

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