Every once in a while I read a book that I cannot put down. Not even when I’m incredible tired. An Unwanted Guest is one of those books. Last year I read Shari Lapena’s thrilling debut, The Couple Next Door, and fell completely in love with Lapena’s writing. I loved the ending of The Couple Next Door especially, so I was curious what An Unwanted Guest had in store.
Ten people arrive at a hotel in the snowy mountains. It is supposed to be a cozy and relaxing weekend getaway. Then a storm hits and the guests are trapped. The electricity gets cut off and they find one of the guests dead at the bottom of the stairs. What follows reminds me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Not soon after, a second guest is killed and finally all other guests realise that the first body was not an accident and there might be a murderer among them. Or is it someone from outside who likes to kill random people? They are cut off from the outside world, no way to reach the police. Panic ensues, rightfully so.
The story is told through split narrative, each of the ten guests and the two people running the hotel. There are friends Gwen and Riley, who want to have a weekend away from their problems. Riley is a journalist, who used to work in war zones and displays signs of PTSD. Couples Dana and Matthew, who just got engaged, Ian and Lauren, as well as Henry and Beverly, who have been married for ages, want to spent some romantic time together. Henry might have other plans, though.
Writer Candice and defence attorney David want the solitude, without wifi and the possibility to use their phones. James is the hotel owner and chef and his son Bradley helps out with the reception and everything else. What I found interesting was that after the book was almost over, there was a switch in perspective right before the murderer was revealed. It was definitely interesting and helped move the story forward, unexpected, but interesting.
Seeing what is happening through the eyes of all these characters makes sure we don’t always get to notice things we might otherwise. It was a gripping story and I read it in one go. I really couldn’t put it down. The characters are all interesting and some of them seem quite shady or did things that didn’t put the best light on them. I really love this feeling in mystery novels, when the stakes are really high and you’re unsure of who will survive. Lapena did a good job conveying this and I was hooked from the get go.
As I have mentioned before, I loved the ending of Lapena’s debut novel The Couple Next Door. So I had high hopes for An Unwanted Guest, I wanted to feel as amazed as I did before. I did not quite get that. It wasn’t a bad ending at all, it just wasn’t a The-Couple-Next-Door-ending. I was surprised by the ending, as I would not have guessed who the murderer was, never mind why it was done. To be honest, I am quite bad at guessing who did it, when it comes to murder mysteries, good murder mysteries, that is.
Overall, I really loved reading An Unwanted Guest and would highly recommend it. If you enjoy reading murder mysteries along the line of Agatha Christie, you’d definitely like this one as well. Have you read An Unwanted Guest before? What did you think? Do you want to read it? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments.
Title: An Unwanted Guest/Der zehnte Gast
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Viking Books/Bastei Lübbe
Publishing Date (first publication): 26-07-2018/31.10.2019