We can’t choose the strangers we meet.
As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.
Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.
With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.
Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.
Novels with a locked-in trope are my new addiction so it’s no surprise that I was dying to read this one. Being able to hunt for a suspect you must know, someone hiding in plain sight in a very claustrophobic setting is something that enraptures me. An Unwanted Guest certainly captures the same vibe of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’, a novel where several guests come to stay on a small, isolated island. They’re stranded there while one of them is a killer.
In An Unwanted Guest the setting is a small lodge where several guests are looking for a weekend getaway. Little do they know that there’ll be a snow blizzard cutting them off from the outside world with no power or cellphone reception. There are 10 guests with an additional 2 people working as the lodge’s staff and while this seemed a lot to follow and I was worried I’d get confused about the who’s who I didn’t have any issues at all. I admire how the author deftly wrote about them all, used enough references and repetition to make them all easily recognisable. I was able to identify every person and relationship in no time. There’s the unhappy couple, the couple in love, the engaged couple, the (girl)friends, the singleton writer and the lawyer. Good thing he’s there; or not, because can you really trust a lawyer ;-)?
The novel shows what being trapped with several strangers does to you. Everyone acts differently at first but it the end they all feel the same way, everyone suspects each other and fingers are pointed in every direction. The suspicion and fear is high and the secrets that come out make them ALL look even more guilty. I loved all the suspicion and I couldn’t clear anyone from my suspect list.
Of course I just can’t leave this brilliant novel – that I really couldn’t put down because I HAD TO KNOW WHO IT WAS – without uttering some kind of remark again. The thing is… there wasn’t any evidence around to break the investigation open. It’s more about the group’s reactions and the aftermath of their discoveries than actually solving this whodunnit and I just wished I could have sleuthed and found some interesting clues before it all blew up. The author undoubtedly played on that – quite shocking – surprise effect by revealing the killer’s identity the way she did.. but I would have enjoyed it more if the killer and the motive wasn’t just given up but found through brilliant investigation skills and more deduction.
Overall I very much enjoyed reading this novel and I don’t know for how long I’ve had it but I just found the paperback in my library of The Couple Next Door so that’s pushed up on my readlist now!
I received a free paperback copy from the publisher, Bantam Press, in exchange for my honest opinion.