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.
“This was a very enjoyable read for what I needed. I was in a mood for something mysterious and twisted, and got exactly that.The intricate twists and turns together with Barfknecht’s amazing mind and ability to strategize keeps the reader guessing as the story slowly unravels and the villains and motives become clear.I liked this book on so many levels and I do recommend it.”– Bailey E., Texas Book Nook
“There is a great balance between the Suspense and Mystery. I found myself guessing the whole way through, and being wrong quite a bit I loved the added benefit of the mind bending psychological elements.
The plot was fast paced and flowed smoothly and the characters were those who I really liked reading about. They were interesting and compelling. ”– The Indie Express
“This book keeps you guessing with every chapter. It is wonderfully suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat through out the entire book. There were a few chapters that were so tense I had to stand while I was reading! If you are at all a fan of thrillers; you must check out this book, you will not be disappointed! I cannot wait for future books from this up and coming author.”– Alicia H.
“A fast paced thriller. The characters are well developed and the plot and the subplots are interesting and keep you hooked till the last page.
An interesting and entertaining book.
“This was a fast paced thriller that grabbed me and didn’t let me go! The characters and plot were well developed and the twists kept coming!”– Cristie U.
“Laurie’s daughter is missing, and Laurie believes her husband took her. Her dead husband. I enjoyed reading this book, it wasn’t always an easy read, it deals with some tough stuff such as domestic violence and child abuse, but I think it was well written and kept me turning the page. You genuinely don’t know what is happening in the beginning, whether Laurie is crazy or not, but it comes together nicely in the end. I would definitely recommend this book. “– S.K. G.
“More minor plots weave throughout the story: explosion at a house nearby, a kiddie porn ring has been thriving, Mark (fire investigator) and his wife Norma have problems, and Brad’s ex-wife is a “winner”.
Yet, as time goes on, these smaller plots weave into the main story and a lot ( some unexpected) becomes revealed to the reader. Although there are interwoven timelines, as well, they are not too much of a problem as in some books. The plots are clear and quite well thought out. Characters are well developed and timing of events spot-on. A fast read ! Very enjoyable!”– Janice L.
“There are story plots wrapped around sub lots to keep the reader intrigued and trying to guess where all the puzzle pieces fit. Brad is a firefighter, learning the ropes of being an arson investigator. He’s got an ex-wife who’s determined to keep his 6-year-old-son away from him. His boss, Mark, has his own problems. His daughter is missing.. but that’s something she’s been doing for a while. She’s involved with drugs and several people have seen her hanging around the neighborhood.All these plots merge together to create a riveting mystery and a surprise ending.”– Linda S.