An Unwanted Guest is a closed door mystery involving a group of strangers trapped at a luxury hotel during an ice storm. I may have squeed with excitement when I read that description. Sadly, that was the only time this book delighted me.
Mitchell’s Inn in the Catskills Mountains is a gorgeous hotel, deep in the woods, with no cell phone service or internet. Guests enjoy gourmet meals, unlimited alcohol, and outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Three couples, a pair of friends, and two singles arrive one Friday night. An ice storm settles in overnight, cutting off the landline telephone and the electricity. The next morning, one of the guests is found dead at the bottom of the stairs. It looks like an accident, but one of the guests isn’t so sure. With no way to call the police or to go for help, the guests decide to hunker down and hope for the best. But once a second guest is found dead, there’s no denying a murderer is present. Can they find the murderer before the murderer takes them out, one by one?
It’s a great premise, but this book is no And Then There Were None. My main problem with the book was that none of the characters were likeable, which would have been fine if the characters were complex, with varying degrees of good and bad qualities. But they all seemed completely selfish. For example, one character brought her husband to the hotel because she knew her marriage was struggling and thought the trip would help them reconnect. When she realizes she may not be able to save her marriage, she doesn’t mourn the loss of love and their lifetime together. She just thinks how she has to find a way to force him to stay because she needs his money. The author voices the characters’ pettiest thoughts, but not much of their kindest, gentlest thoughts. I found it very hard to care about the murders since I didn’t care about the characters.