The Literary Salon – An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted Guest

This is the perfect book to curl up with by the fire, when the first big January snowstorm descends, perhaps with some mulled wine in hand to calm your nerves, for it is so well done you may feel like you have checked into the country inn yourself.     

The publishers  blurb:  When the storm hits, no one is getting away….

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.  It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. 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 for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.

A bit about the Author:

SHARI LAPENA  is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction.
She lives in Toronto.



My Goodreads review:

An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Best to save this book for a dark and stormy night in January when a sudden snowstorm has descended and you are safe by the fire with a hot toddy. Absolutely loved it, so creepy and suspenseful I went around and checked all the locks before bed. It’s a simple premise, probably done before, a group of strangers snowed in at a country inn with no outside communication, and one by one they get picked off – by an unwanted guest. Vivid descriptions of the inn and the weather, a twist turning plot, and solid characterizations all make for a great read. A well developed story, from a psychological point of view – how well does anyone really know anyone else……psychopaths dwell among us.

Some thoughts:

It’s a deceptively simple premise for a murder mystery, take a group of people, in this case eleven, nine guests and two staff, and confine them to a space, a la Murder on the Orient Express, so you know the murderer must be among them.    Although this book generally received good reviews there was some criticism that it was too similar to Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None, which I have not read, having only ever read her Orient Express book.   But as a famous author recently proclaimed in one of his podcasts, all possible ideas have been done before anyway, what makes a book different is the authors unique spin on it.    At 290 pages it is a slim book, with the author giving us just enough information about the guests in the first few chapters to enable us to differentiate between them…..and then slowly revealing more background. 

‘The large diamond glittered when she picked up her champagne glass, her eyes sparkled when she looked at her fiance.  Everything about her was shiny and bright.  She has a bright shiny life, Lauren thinks.  Then she directs her attention to the man to whom she is engaged.  What does she think of him?  She thinks he is someone who collects bright, shiny things.’

By the end of the book five of them are dead and I still had no idea who did it until the last couple of pages, although I was a bit let down as there was no dramatic climax, just a slow unraveling, and one clue which I found rather cliche.    Perhaps all the clues have been done before too.     

I always like to check out the authors background, and an English major with a law degree is a lethal combination –  grammar and details.   I hope she sells the movie rights because I’m already casting it in my head.    Her first novel was published in 2007, and her second, Happiness Economics, was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal of Humor in 2011.    Just how does one switch from writing humor to murder, but I suspect there is more money in murder mysteries.   This is her third mystery and best so far.   Her two previous books had simple plot ideas as well.    In the Couple Next Door, a couple is invited to dinner at the townhouse next door, but when the babysitter cancels at the last minute, they decide to go anyway and rig up the baby monitor and one of them goes home hourly to check, except when the evening is over, the baby is gone.   In A Stranger in the House, a newly married couple find they don’t know much about each other’s background at all.    As a Canadian writer she has a Canadian agent, and while not as well known as Claire MacIntosh or Ruth Ware, I think she is well on her way, and certainly an inspiration for those of us still struggling to find a plot.   How hard can it be to write such a simple thing… turns out very hard indeed.   

(See introduction to The Literary Salon link). 

Song of the Day:


18 thoughts on “The Literary Salon – An Unwanted Guest

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Thanks for the idea Linda…..and it is fun doing them, and I have done a few on the Goodreads, site but the competition on there is fierce. I hope you didn’t walk today – it was bitterly cold here and I only managed to walk down to get the mail. Union Gas send a guy to change my gas meter this afternoon, (apparently it hasn’t been reading properly since 2017), and I felt sorry for him being out there for an hour in that – what a crazy time to change a gas meter – the coldest day of the year so far! I am not liking this new color scheme on WordPress – I hope they change it back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        It would be fun for you to do that Joan – you enjoy reading and writing about your books you’ve read … if the opportunity presents itself, show them what you did here or your Dicken’s book from Christmas – they are perfect examples. It was very blustery today – today I didn’t walk but my boss was in a few meetings and out til about 2:00, so we have some snow predicted for the weekend, so I took advantage and got a few errands done and grocery shopping too. I don’t want to go on a weekend – in the Summer/Fall is one thing, in the Winter, wall to wall people sneezing and coughing their heads off – no thank you. 🙂 I don’t like it either and you cannot see what has been liked now … it blends right in. What were they thinking? I was going to write a post tonight, the one about Lake Erie Metropark, but I gave myself a few nights to catch up on sleep – I wrote so man posts over about 2 to 2 1/2 weeks’ time and staying up late every night – not good this time of year. The flu is ramping up quickly in Michigan right now, so figured I’d better get some sleep. I have this shoulder/arm issue right now – had it since the beginning of November and initially thought I slept on my arm funny, but now think it is much more. Very painful and this is not the time of year for me for going to a doctor to see what is wrong with it – my mom had rotator cuff tendonitis and all the symptoms were similar. Been icing it, and got some rub to put on it today … hoping that helps and got some Tylenol and Aleve. I am not one for taking anything but it keeps waking me up … and getting into anything where you slip your arm in a sleeve … wow. Working on it this Winter so I don’t have to go to the doctor or physical therapy – hopefully anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        Do you think it is carpal tunnel syndrome from typing so much from work….and blogging? It was cold here but not as bad as yesterday. I went to a used book sale but it was too late when I got home to walk. Good you got some rest!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I’ve tried to figure out what I’ve done and I do think it could be my posture at the table – I sit at the kitchen table and on a kitchen chair – I’ve exhausted myself wondering what any other cause could be. My mom had carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and it was from knitting so much and that was a hobby of hers for years. She also, in the last 15 years of her life used a wide cane (it had four legs, but not the claw-type legs at the bottom, this cane looked like an oil derrick) … she had to grip it. I can’t understand why it is only in the left arm/shoulder. My mom had the same thing and I remember her problems she had reaching up, combing her hair, fastening a bra, reaching behind. It is exasperating … I just don’t know what to do, but I have been going to bed earlier to get away from the computer. The post I did today I started a few days ago with the pictures and then wrote the story part last night, and finished it tonight after work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I was having pain in just my right shoulder/arm awhile back but I was typing a lot for a few days….I cut back and it went away. We have free medical coverage here in Canada, so it’s easy to see the doctor, but the wait times are longer so I tend to avoid going too, because often by the time you get an appointment, the problem has gone away!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I really and truly think it is the long hours at the table/laptop. Right now I am standing at a computer in my bedroom. It is my first laptop, and will be 10 years old this year. It has no battery and missing some keys, but I like it as it is a little bigger screen. I put it up on a cart on top of a table. It is 45 inches tall and I thought it would help my arm – it is a little too tall … need a pillow I think. I thought it was good to get off the chair – hoped it helped. I really think the extra blogging since November 2017 when my blog suddenly took off is the culprit. I am going to write less posts … today’s was lengthy, but I did not do it all at one time. I still have to sort out last Sunday’s pictures … I’ve been good this week about staying off the computer and going to bed earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Chomeuse with a Chou says:

    As soon as I read the blurb I immediately thought of “And then there were none”, which is a brilliant read, although too creepy for me to read before bed (it gave me terrible nightmares when I was a child!). This book sounds like an equally gripping read!

    Liked by 1 person

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