The Sanatorium

I picture The Sanatorium setting to look like the Viceroy Snowmass resort, left, located in Snowmass Village, Colorado; The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse, is set in a French snow resort hotel which used to be a hospital that performed experimental treatments on patients.

Beach reads are my favorite. There is nothing like reading a book set at a beach making you wish you were there. So before we all start our sunny beach vacations (perhaps only in our heads, insert smiley face) take one last reading journey into an icy, snow-capped hotel, formerly known as a … sanatorium. That’s correct – a hotel built around the theme of a place for experimental treatments, illness and murder.

Of all the settings for a mystery, author Sarah Pearse has come up with one of the most interesting. Even the hotel decor is laden with hanging medical supplies. Sounds creepy and scary. Why would anyone check into this place? What happens if they never check out?

You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t.

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in.

Picked as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club treasure, this story may not be for everyone. However, I liked it. I thought the setting was amazing, the descriptions of the hotel rooms, sanatorium, swimming pool area, the avalanche threats and the freezing, dark perimeter kept you looking over your own shoulder to make sure a rando with a gas mask isn’t behind you.

Yes, the villain walks around with an old fashioned gas mask. Think Darth Vader: the experimental years.

Elin is suffering from a terrible case of imposter syndrome when she is, in fact, a good detective. We find out how she overcomes her doubts as an investigator as she tries to solve the disappearances of hotel guests, including her childhood friend.

A Reese’s Book Club pick, The Sanatorium delves into the mysterious ins and outs of an old hospital turned hotel.

The only downside I found about the story is we needed a closer look at Elin’s relationship with her childhood friend that turned sour. There were also times when certain characters were hidden in the background making them seem like red herrings and were left unexplained – then again, maybe that was the point.

While the mystery itself may not be original, the setting was unique and kept me reading to find out whodunit. Enjoy one last shivering snow mystery before settling into the brutal, hot summer. The good news is there are LOADS of exciting mysteries and thrillers coming out soon.

I rate THE SANATORIUM four out of five stars.

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