Review – AN UNWANTED GUEST, by Shari Lapena, 3 of 5 stars

An Unwanted Guest

I know better than to judge a book by the cover, but this one just seemed to scream, “read me!” In part, it was Shari Lapena’s name. After THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, she became a must read. Another part was, no doubt, the depiction of that house in a snowstorm. For me, mother nature’s wrath is the perfect complement to any suspense-filled mystery. The added hurdle of a hurricane, tornado, massive earthquake, volcanic eruption, ice or dust storm, etc. grabs my attention every time.

Maybe I went into it with preconceived notions or maybe I was just off, but I had a hard time getting into this one. The large cast of point of view characters coupled with short sections for each of them made it difficult for me to connect with them and ultimately lose myself in their stories. It didn’t help that the writing felt somewhat simplistic and passive.

That is not to say that it’s a bad book – it’s a good mystery and worth the read – it just wasn’t quite what I expected. I anticipated a strong psychological thriller and instead found this to be strictly murder mystery.

The mystery was well presented, but I felt that the story would have benefited from the twists and turns of strong merging storylines. The characters certainly had their individual issues to contend with, but the progression and ultimately the punch of those issues didn’t have the power to explosively collide with the main plot. All the elements were there, but the excessive number of characters kept me from getting deep enough into their personal struggles to feel the effects. Had I remained in the heads of just a few, I suspect I would feel differently.

I did absolutely love the final twist at the end, and that particular storyline is the exception to the above. I don’t want to give it away, but lets just say that right or wrong, I found myself not only surprised, but also thoroughly satisfied with it.

Overall, I found AN UNWANTED GUEST to be a good book, just not quite what I expected given the author’s previous works.

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