An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena | Book Review

Looks like I have found another author to add to my ‘Auto-read’ list.


An Unwanted Guest

Edition: Hardcover, 290 pages

Publication Date: August 7th 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books (first published July 26th 2018)

Original Title: An Unwanted Guest

ISBN: 0525557628 (ISBN13: 9780525557623)

Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thrilller, Adult

Goodreads Blurb:

A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away

It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm–and one another.


‘An Unwanted Guest’ by Shari Lapena is about a group of strangers who check in at the Mitchell’s Inn, hoping for a break from the real world even if it’s just for a couple of days. When one of the guests is found dead at the bottom of the stairs, it all points to murder. With no way out because of last night’s storm, no electricity and no internet connection, suspicion rises and fingers are pointed— who among the guests is the killer? Or is the killer lurking from the outdoors, lying in wait

I absolutely devoured this book. I finished this book in one day, only stopping for meals and bathroom breaks, because I did not want to put this book down. I would even go as far as to say you could probably finish this book in one sitting. This book has to be one of the most atmospheric novel I have read in a while.

Thrillers and mystery novels are my most read genres, and once you read a fair amount of these books you kind of know what to expect in some cases. Some “shocking revelations” aren’t a shock to you, and you might have even predicated some plot twists before it even happens. In this book, there were a couple revelations that I kind of predicated very early on (spoiler: David’s wife being murdered and him being the assailant/main suspect) However, the author of this book uses some of the most used cliche’s in thriller books, makes you think that you know where the plot is going, and the complete throws you off track. The author plant little details that you think might be significant later, but in actuality it didn’t mean anything in the end.

And that’s what I really enjoyed about this book.

We’re not taken on this smooth sailing adventure, instead this book is like an interconnecting web of possible motives and theories that will have you guessing and re-guessing again. There are some thriller books that make it blatantly obvious that they are trying to throw you off by having a particular character be the central focus— in most thrillers the first main suspect or the most suspicious character usually isn’t the killer.

Initially I was worried about the multiple character perspectives, (there are eleven (11) different characters in this book) thinking I will eventually get lost and not recognised who is who. But this book proved me wrong. The switch from the different character’s point of views was almost seamless, and as you read further into the book it does get less confusing. The author also does a great job of making me care for all of the characters in the way that I was genuinely interested in their own stories, and I wasn’t skipping over anybody’s POV just to get to the character that I am interested in. I also really enjoyed the fact that this murder mystery took place in one place, where the possible killer is among them and they are trapped in this one place. It’s also very reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Murder on the Orient Express’— it gives this unsettling feeling of doubt and suspicion about all the characters and the readers too are left wondering whether the characters are telling the truth— after all you can only run so far when you’re trapped.

One thing I think could have been done better was the fact that the killer’s motive was explained in the last couple pages or so. I wished there was more hints of the possible motive throughout the story so that we as readers could formulate our own theories as the story progresses. However, there really wasn’t much to go off of— aside from the obvious characters that the fingers were being pointed at.

(spoiler: I wish Lauren and Dana got to interact more in the present so we could see the resentment that Lauren carried with her all these years, instead of having to rely on the flashbacks.)

Overall, this book just reinstated my love for thrillers and reminded me why I love the genre in the first place I definitely plan on reading more of Shari Lapeana’s books (I may have ‘A Couple Next Door’ in my cart already) and can’t wait to read more from her.

4 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read ‘An Unwanted Guest’? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!

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