We are all currently trapped within our own four walls, but Sarah Pearse’s first novel shows us how much worse things could be. Elin Warner is a detective, but has taken time off after a traumatic experience. She has been invited to her brother Isaac’s engagement party in a remote hotel in the Swiss Alps... Then Isaac’s fiancee Laure vanishes, a body is found buried in the snow up the mountain, and an avalanche traps guests in the hotel as a killer stalks the luxury corridors. The police can’t get through the snow, and as the storm worsens, Elin is forced to bring her old training into play while simultaneously confronting her tragic past with her brother. “She’s often thought about this, the risks of a crime in a remote location. How vulnerable people would be, how much damage could be inflicted in a short period of time.” Spooky, chilling and claustrophobic.
The line-up of writers who have set mysteries in isolated snowscapes is long and illustrious: Agatha Christie, Jo Nesbo, the Coen brothers and, most recently, Ruth Ware. Sarah Pearse now joins the list with The Sanatorium. Elin, a Devonian detective recuperating in an Alpine hotel after a traumatic case, finds herself unexpectedly busy, with the local Swiss cops cut off by an avalanche. A mix of whodunnit and psychological thriller with hints of horror, this fine debut has its implausible moments, but is smartly structured and often powerful.
This menacing, creepy debut focuses on a young female detective from Devon who attends her younger brother’s engagement party in an abandoned sanatorium now transformed into an ultra-chic hotel high in the Swiss Alps...
Slowly the dark secrets hidden in the sinister building emerge from the shadows. There are echoes of Hitchcock and du Maurier, but Pearse has her own distinctive, emotional voice — one to be admired.
Locked-room mysteries a la Agatha Christie are proving to be very popular right now, and this one doesn't disappoint. Elin and Will head to a remote hotel, one that used to be a sanatorium, in the Swiss Alps for Ellin's brother's engagement party, but they end up trapped by an avalanche with a murderer on the loose. This also sent me down a Google rabbit hole looking at abandoned santoriums!
There is a pleasing pressure-cooker feel to proceedings, reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None. Pearse uses clever red herrings – secrets, pills, affairs, mental illness – and the stand-off scenes between Elin and the murderer are genuinely scary. The setting proves ideal: slippery outdoor swimming pools, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, the austere beauty of the glacial mountains, the shadows and low lighting of the posh hotel. Right from the beginning, in a claustrophobic scene in a mountain funicular, there is the sense of no escape.