The Other Guest by Helen Cooper is a slow-burn mystery. Till about 70% into the story, I felt like reading two stories in parallel. Joanna is a student counselor working at the university and recovering from a broken relationship and then there is Leah whose niece died in a tragic accident a year ago and she is recovering from the trauma of that loss. So there we go, following the lives of these two women who do not seem to have anything in common, Joanna is forming a friendship with a new guy in her life, and Leah is hell-bent on tracing the final moments of her niece’s life at the family-owned resort regardless of the danger and warning signs being thrown at her.
The story develops slowly as we see how these random lives get interconnected and the author has developed the plot excellently, though, I wonder if she left the twisty surprise a little too late. I do love a slow burn mystery, but here at most times in the story, the thrill of the chase or a big reveal waiting to be unraveled never materializes, so in effect, the reading was easy but I never did get engaged into the plot.
The Other Guest had several characters each of them having a fair amount of growing up to do and I loved how Il Mandrino, the resort becomes an integral element of the story. The setting of the resort was good, and it provided a claustrophobic experience. The grief and trauma of losing a loved one were conveyed in excellent fashion, each one of them suffering in private unable to share the pain that haunts all of them in equal measures.
The writing by the author is captivating though I would have loved to feel more of a ‘gripping and thrilling’ effect in the untangling of the mystery. Surely, I am looking forward to reading other works by the author.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Hodder & Stoughton, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
After a shocking death at a luxurious Italian resort, two very different women must question everything—and everyone—they love in order to untangle truth from lies in this twisty, captivating read.
One year ago, Leah’s feisty 21-year-old niece, Amy, mysteriously drowned in the beautiful lake near her family-owned resort in Northern Italy. Now, Leah’s grief has caught up with her, and she decides to return to Lake Garda for the first time since Amy’s death. What she finds upon her arrival shocks her—her sister, brother-in-law, and surviving niece, Olivia, seem to have erased all memories of Amy, and fought to have her death declared an accidental drowning, despite murky circumstances. Leah knows she must look beyond the resort’s beautiful façade and uncover what truly happened to Amy, even if her digging places both her family ties and her very life in danger.
Meanwhile, in Central England, thirtysomething Joanna is recovering from a surprising break-up when she is swept off her feet by a handsome bartender. But when she learns that he is on the run from something in his past, and that their meeting may not have been a coincidence, Joanna realized that he may just a bit too good to be true.
What follows is a propulsive cat-and mouse game set against the Italian lakeside as the two seemingly-unconnected women are caught up in a dangerous conspiracy.
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