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Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

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This was definitely a novel that hooked me from the beginning. I know I'm really into a book when I get annoyed at everyday life getting in the way of me sitting and reading! I had to wait an extra day this weekend to focus on the last hundred pages   this morning and woke up early just to finish. 

I'll warn folks right now that there are some gruesome parts in the story. So if you have a queasy stomach you are forewarned. 

This novel takes place in the Swiss Alps at a new resort called Le Sommet. This resort is unusual in that it was a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients back in the 1920-30's.  Not a place I'd want to stay at, for sure. But  it's been redone at great expense and is upscale luxury for those who want to ski or be pampered in the spa. 

Elin Warner has arrived with her boyfriend Will for an engagement part for her brother Isaac and his fiancé Laure. Elin is a mess. She's a police officer from England who was injured on the job trying to catch a killer. The episode caused Elin to take extended time off the force and she's now got to decide if she's going to go back or leave for good. Flashbacks from her fight with the killer have pretty much paralyzed her ability to do much of anything. Add to that her unanswered questions about her brother Sam's tragic death when they were children (is Isaac to blame?) and she's got a lot of mental anguish keeping her from moving on in life. This is her chance to see Isaac after many years, and hopefully get answers about Sam's death. 

Le Sommet sounds, to me, like a perfectly terrible place to stay for any length of time. A winding mountain road, avalanches, and sudden snow storms make the trip something you're committed to once you get on a launch to take you up the mountain. The sanatorium has been completely redone with a lot of wide windows, cold marble, and minimalist features. It's a perfect setting for what happens there.

As a huge snowstorm pummels the resort, a young resort worker is found dead in an outdoor pool, horribly murdered. Police can't get to the resort, so Elin forces herself to use her police chops to start an investigation. As more people disappear, it's clear something horrible is happening. But why? And who is behind it? Elin's trauma is not helping her think clearly, but she keeps trying to see her way through the investigation. It's definitely one where anyone could be the perpetrator, so who can she trust? Will she reveal the murderer in time to stop them?

The isolation, the intense snowstorm, the avalanches, and oh, the cold! It all is written so well that you can't help but shiver a bit. Elin, oh Elin. I wanted to shake her. I do give her props for forcing herself to continue on, even in the midst of paralyzing fear. The back story of the sanatorium was fascinating, and horrible all at the same time. You truly aren't sure who to trust throughout the story, and revelations just keep popping up as you race towards the ending. The past and the present are like a spider web-so many connections. 

I enjoyed this novel very much and can see why it's a big hit. Definitely a summer vacation read. If you like thrillers with a bit of history and mystery, this will be a sure bet for you. I am hoping that there is another book with Elin in the future. The ending leaves me to certainly want one-I'd like to see her back on the force, and dealing with unresolved issues. 

Thank you to Pamela Dorman/Viking Books for an ebook version to read and review. If you're interested in an interview with author Sarah Pearse, just click on this link to read-it's pretty interesting! 

Rating: 4/6 for a thriller that gave me all the creepy and anxious feels I expect from a great read-I couldn't put it down and raced to the end. Beware of some unpleasant murders but otherwise a darn good read. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


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