Written by: Shari Lapena
Sequence in Series: N/A
Hard Cover: 290
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
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.
Shari Lapena’s book was loaned to me as a quick read to pass the time. It is a “locked room” mystery storyline, where instead of being in a locked room the characters are snowed in at a remote hotel. The plot was easy enough to follow, there’s what looks like an accidental death that is soon revealed as a murder, followed by additional murders, and a tense hunt for who the perpetrator might be among those still alive.
There was a lively cast of characters who each held a distinctive voice and made it easier to follow along with who was who in the story. I still had to go back and check who had arrived with whom though in order to keep things in order in my mind. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable nor relatable, which I believe is by design – if everyone is slightly despicable than everyone is possibly capable of murder.
The scene setting, the environment, was expertly done by Lapena. Lapena definitely knows how to set a tone. The descriptions of the hotel and the weather really set the mood for the situation and helped create the tension needed for the story. In fact, she created the tension through the setting better than she did through the character building and dialogue.
There were plenty of hints that pointed to the culprit so it was no surprise to me when revealed. However, like most mystery novels, the why was not something that could be discerned prior to the big reveal because it is totally unrelated to the current events, aside from being the secret instigation of murder. I enjoyed the handful of twists within the plot, there were some things that were completed unexpected, but the biggest one at the end felt a little forced.
In the end, I have to say that it was a pleasant enough read and an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. I can’t say that I found myself invested at any point of time, I never did find myself worried about what might happen next or for the wellbeing of any of the characters. It was an easy read and well written enough to do in one sitting. I would probably recommend the book if asked for a mystery novel but that might be partially because my knowledge of the genre is rather limited.