Gwen has never been so frightened in her life . . .
Is someone else dead?
She wonders if soon there will be no one left at all.
She wants to live, but she hopes that if she has to die, she isn’t the last one.
Outside Mitchell Inn, high up a remote mountain road in the N.Y. Catskills, the blizzard is intensifying. Snow pelts the windows like bullets and the wind howls angrily. Inside, the fireplace crackles and snaps throwing welcoming heat around the lobby. The weekend is about to begin and the mystery awaits.
The family-owned upscale hotel normally fills all twelves rooms on a winter weekend. This weekend, the forecast of a snowstorm brought cancellations. Just as well, as non-resident staff are unavailable. James, the owner and the house chef, and his son, Bradley are not worried. There are only six reservations and everything has been prepared in advance.
As the Friday afternoon light begins to fade, the sounds of tires crunching on fallen snow fills the parking lot. The guests are looking forward to a respite from their hectic lives totally disconnected from clamor of city life. Mitchell Inn advertises they are completely off grid. Other than electricity and a single landline, guests will find no internet or cell service.
Our cast of quirky Agatha Christie-lite characters arrive, stomping off snow in the entrance way and shivering from the arctic cold. Ian and Lauren, a newly dating couple hope for privacy to deepen their relationship. They bring with them Gwen and Riley, old college friends, rescued from their disabled vehicle on the trip up the mountain. Gwen, living with the stain of a bad decision from long ago hopes to help Riley suffering from PTSD after years as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. David, a criminal defense attorney, needs the quiet solitude to recharge his mental batteries. Beverly, a middle-aged housewife, has booked a quiet get-away hoping to recharge her failing marriage. Her husband, Henry, reluctantly has agreed to come with her. Candice is looking for a quiet place to put the finishing touches on her debut fiction novel. The wealthy Matthew and his fiance Dana, take a needed break from planning their high society wedding.
The guests arrive for Friday’s evening meal, each surreptitiously scanning the room, checking each other out as they gathered. The stunningly beautiful Dana, now shed of her winter cloaks, strode elegantly into the room flashing the fist-sized diamond on her left hand. The men sat taller and the women groaned. After dinner and cocktails, everyone headed to their rooms feeling safe and comfortable as the raging storm outside screamed and threw its fists at the windows.
The peace and calm inside ended early Saturday morning with the sound of a hysterical scream.The beautiful Dana was discovered bloody and broken at the bottom of the first floor stairs. Was it a terrible accident or was she murdered? As the crowd gathered around her dead body, each reeling at the discovery, Mitchell Inn went dark from downed power and telephone lines.
With her death, the game is afoot. Upon closer examination it was determined she was murdered! The perfect weekend has ended as they stand in the dark, the temperature in the Inn falling rapidly without a functioning furnace. The atmosphere darkens hour by hour as they realize they have no way to notify the authorities. Some one is a murderer in their group! Accusations fly, more bodies are found, and each person reveals their true self under pressure.
What? Did you expect me to tell you what happens next? Nada gonna happen. This short novel is the perfect anecdote to stave off the anxiety of staying confined in your home during this nation wide crisis. Not exactly a cozy mystery offering on par with Ruth Rendell or Agatha Christie but none-the-less entertaining. Having been born and raised around winter blizzards, I can still hear the wind howling and the bite of snow on my face. Thought the setting heightened the stories tension well.
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the advanced reader copy in exchange for my review and opinion.