By Sarah Pearse
Pamela Dorman Books, 9780593296677, February 2021, 400pp.
The Short of It:
A quick, fast-paced read that will keep you guessing.
The Rest of It:
I knew nothing about The Sanatorium when I picked it up, except that it was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and that an old mental hospital was at the center of the story. I’ve been pretty lucky with the books Reese has chosen for her clubs and an old mental hospital sounded like the perfect, creepy setting for a mystery.
The story opens with the sanatorium being completely renovated and in its place, is a fancy hotel located in the Swiss Alps. Elin has taken time off from her job as a detective to attend her brother’s engagement party. Isaac and Elin have been estranged for quite some time, but she can’t really say no to this celebratory event so she and Will, her significant other, make the trip and decide to put the past behind them.
Shortly after their arrival, there is an avalanche which cuts them off from the rest of society. No one can leave and no one can get to them either. This wouldn’t be much of an issue normally but a dead body has been found in the snow, and it’s not looking like an accident. As details emerge, more people go missing including her soon-to-be sister-in-law and Elin can’t help but get involved since she’s the only detective on the scene and the only one who can investigate at all since the local police cannot get to them.
I’ve read many stories where the characters are stuck in a remote location and everything that CAN hit the fan, does. Although the concept is far from unique, the execution here is a lot better than some of the books I’ve read with similar plots. As the story unfolds, just enough is given to you to make you question what is going on and who could be responsible for it. The pacing is very good and if you are wondering if the mental hospital enters back into the story, it does, but not in a big way. I was hoping for more mental hospital and less hotel, personally.
What’s good about this story is that Elin is dealing with something from her past and her story is woven quite nicely into this murder mystery. The two storylines complimented one another and did not compete which is rare. If you look at other reviews for this book, you will see that opinions are mixed but I enjoyed it and thought it was well done. For those of you who have read it, do you see a sequel in the works?
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