Book Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304 pages

Published: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Genre:  Fiction & Literature, Mystery & Thrillers


It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

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.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.


An Unwanted Guest had a lot of potentials, especially since it was considered to be a modern adaptation of Agatha Christie’s bestselling mystery and my personal favorite, And Then There Were None. However, the so-called twists and the total expected turns were just dead in the water in this latest mystery.

The set up was perfect. Strangers trapped together in a secluded location, barred from the outside world due to a dangerous storm. Locked house mysteries are so much better (and creepy) than other mysteries because it gives readers the chance to solve the puzzle. Half the time, the reader is wrong, but the readers are phased by this sentiment. They enjoyed the ride so much that they are left shocked, scared and excited for the thrilling ride they had just embarked on.

An Unwanted Guest did just that but towards the end, I felt like the conclusion duped readers or in other words, the book robbed readers of a more satisfying ending. When I started reading this, I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t stop reading it. I was engrossed in the characters’ (suspects’) backgrounds. Every chance I got, I dived in more in this novel to try to figure out this puzzling mystery. Although I didn’t finish it, I recommended it to any mystery lover I encountered. At the time, I knew I was in for an exciting ending.

As I was reading, however, I suspected who the perpetrator was. I couldn’t believe it was that easy. But as I continued reading, the answer became much clearer. A part of me felt disappointed but I kept pushing on. There was a chance that I could be wrong in fact, I wanted to be wrong. All the same, I was left disappointed as I reached the ending. It just made the story fall flat. It had so much potential. I really considered it to be a modern adaptation of And Then There Were None but I feel this ending is an example of why you shouldn’t mess with the original. There were surrounding clues that made it just too easy for a reader to figure who was the culprit. Who knows if the author slipped or these clues were purposefully done, nevertheless, the story fell flat on its face.

The writing was good. I have no complaints about the writing. I liked the little references to Agatha Christie incorporated into the story. Lapena goes into heavy detail about the characters’ lives, something that Christie rarely did in her works. Lapena wanted the reader to guess who was behind the murders and their background lives can provide that information. However, that was a big mistake for Lapena. She waited until the end for one particular character and for me, it made is so easy to figure out who was the murderer. What partially saved this novel for me was the slight twist that the ending gave. I definitely didn’t see it coming but it wasn’t enough for me to consider a great mystery.

A good mystery and a decent twist on a classic, An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena can be an enjoyable read. I would just say to not have high expectations for this one. The ending will have you severely disappointed and leave you feeling taken for a ride.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository| Your local library

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