An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena


Published: 26th July 2018


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.


Thank you to Penguin for kindly sending me a review copy.

When ten strangers all make their way to the Mitchell Inn, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of New York, they have reason to believe that the next few days will be spent relaxing, reading a few books, enjoying cocktails, sleeping more than they usually would and having the chance to fix their problems. However, their days don’t go according to plan and very early on in the plot, a murder takes place and nobody knows who is responsible. Shari Lapena is quite possibly one of the best mystery writers to have graced the book publishing scene and despite always being able to guess the ending of plots, I really did have no idea who was behind the deaths. Yup, it’s plural.

“It has defined her, shaped her life. She’s a coward, someone who failed to do the right thing. She knows she no longer deserves any of the good things life has to offer.”

The concept of the plot is very clever: readers will hear from twelve characters who are all different in their own ways and the things that have occurred in their pasts accidentally creep up on them and it is the stories in which they tell one another that readers really ought to read carefully as there are a handful of clues which I only noticed when I reread a few chapters. Shari Lapena begins the plot with two friends; Gwen and Riley – it is clear that Riley suffers from anxiety as her quietness is alarming but when their car becomes trapped in the snow, they are rescued by two other characters who are also staying at the Inn for the weekend. Alongside the two female friends, there is David (an attorney), Matthew and Dana (an engaged, wealthy couple), Candice (a writer), Henry and Beverly (a struggling married couple), James and Bradley (father and son owners of the hotel) and finally, Ian and Lauren (a relatively new couple). All of these characters have their own lives, their own demons and when those demons are unleashed – the plot is absolutely thriving.

“She’s not going to tell him. Not yet. There’s only one person who knows the truth about her, about what she did – and she’s sitting right beside her.”

When the first murder takes place (I won’t say who dies), everyone freezes and it is only David who decides to take action of keeping the body where it was found until the police arrive and quite frankly, it was a genius idea of Shari to set the narrative during a heavy snow storm as there really was nowhere to hide. In addition to the first murder, there is a very big clue as to who killed all three people and I’m actually annoyed with myself for not spotting the signs even though one of the characters knew from the third body discovery of who was behind the attacks. The only downside to a murder mystery plot is that it’s difficult to talk about as it is extremely easy to accidentally say a spoiler but it truly is one of those books that you just need to read in order to understand how utterly fantastic and gripping it is.

“He doesn’t know how far she would go for love. Love is so much harder to understand – and predict – than hate.”

Shari Lapena has hit the nail on the head once again with An Unwanted Guest and I couldn’t quite believe the outcome of the mystery, but as always, she doesn’t just end it there as she has included an added element right at the very end which made me enjoy the plot even more. In my eyes, every single character was the murderer and for the life of me, I just couldn’t work out who was the culprit and I think that was because I was so caught up in the fast paced plot to even think about who was really the person behind it all. If you enjoy murder mystery books, you will absolutely love this book. Highly, highly recommend.