An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena is a gripping locked-room mystery that was published in 2018. The novel is set in a remote and isolated hotel in the Catskills, where the guests become trapped by a snowstorm and one of them is murdered. As the storm rages on, tensions rise and secrets are revealed, and it becomes clear that anyone could be the killer.
The novel is written in the third person, with the perspective switching between the various characters. This allows the reader to get inside the heads of the characters and see their thoughts and motivations, which adds depth and complexity to the story. The characters themselves are well-drawn and varied, each with their own secrets and hidden agendas.
One of the strengths of An Unwanted Guest is its setting. The hotel is a character in its own right, with its remote location, creaky floorboards, and eerie atmosphere adding to the tension and sense of isolation. Lapena does an excellent job of creating a sense of claustrophobia and danger, with the storm outside adding to the sense of dread and suspense.
The pacing of the novel is also well-done, with the tension and suspense building gradually throughout the story. As the guests become trapped and the murder is discovered, the sense of danger and suspicion grows, and the reader is left constantly guessing who the killer could be.
The mystery itself is well-crafted and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Lapena does an excellent job of weaving in clues and red herrings, keeping the reader engaged and constantly questioning what is really going on. The final twist is unexpected and satisfying, tying up all the loose ends and bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion.
One of the criticisms of the novel is that the characters are somewhat stereotypical, with the rich couple, the successful writer, and the mysterious stranger all fitting into familiar archetypes. However, Lapena does manage to give each character enough depth and complexity to keep them interesting, and the interactions between the characters are realistic and believable.
An Unwanted Guest is a well-crafted locked-room mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The atmospheric setting and well-drawn characters add depth and complexity to the story, and the mystery itself is cleverly done. If you’re a fan of the genre, An Unwanted Guest is definitely a book worth checking out