High in the Swiss Alps, sits Le Sommet. Once a sanatorium, now converted into a luxury hotel.
Elin Warner and her boyfriend Will arrive to celebrate Elin’s brother’s engagement just before the area is hit by a massive blizzard. But the blizzard isn’t the only danger. Soon bodies start appearing and Elin is forced to hunt for the killer.
I really expected to like this book more than I did. I very much wanted to like this book more than I did. I’m new to writing reviews. Their quality probably makes that fairly obvious. And I know the bit of apprehension I have with some of my reviews. How I wonder if it is easy to read. If my thoughts make sense, and that I didn’t post any unannounced spoilers. So I can only imagine the excitement and apprehension a new author has when they publish their first full-length novel. And those are the books that I really want to like the most. When I see it’s an author’s debut novel I always really hope (even before I started writing reviews) that I’ll like the book and the author’s hard work will bring them some happiness. So much so that I have debated not reviewing a couple of books I’ve read simply because I didn’t want to give them the rating I felt they scored. But I rate based on how much I enjoy the books and if I gave out better ratings based on how good I want a book to be rather than how much I enjoyed it, my ratings would mean nothing.
That being said, I struggled with giving this book a rating. I felt bad giving it a 2 and compared to the books I’ve given a 3 to I just couldn’t do it so I’m going to set The Sanatorium at a 2 ½ rating. (2 on Goodreads, 2 ½ on http://www.maitlandreviews.com )
The book has a premise that caught my attention long before I actually got my hands on the book. A partially locked door mystery set in the Swiss Alps in a converted Sanatorium turned luxury hotel. All the makings of a great suspense thriller is there. Throw in the occasional body and I’m hooked. Unfortunately, the premise was about all I liked in this book.
Elin Warner is a detective who has had to take a leave of absence from her job after an incident on a case. Elin was not a protagonist that I was drawn to, or that I liked. I found her reasoning confusing, her actions irresponsible to the point of ridiculousness, and her PTSD issues and continuity confusing as well. Let’s start with the fact that she is having issues with rooms because of them having too many windows or because of the decorations, but she goes by herself, unarmed, to confront a possible killer. And then tries to do it again. Then let’s look at her safety precautions for the guests and staff left at the hotel. She is given specific instructions to keep them all together. Several times. So she has some staff in the hallway of their rooms as security and seemingly leaves it at that. Then after some more deaths, she announces “we need to keep everyone together”. I don’t want to go into much more detail because I don’t want to give any of the actual story away.
While it is said to be the incident that she had on her last case that is causing Elin to have panic attacks, the narrative constantly bombards you with her thoughts about Sam, her deceased younger brother. And I do mean constantly. I often forgot there was an incident with her work because every time she had some kind of episode (which was constantly being set off by things like there being windows) Sam was immediately mentioned and became the focus. I felt like a child in school having to write the same sentence over and over. After the first two dozen times Sam got brought up, I got the point. She had an issue with Sam’s death that she wanted to work out. And that was long before she came out and said she had an issue with Sam’s death she wanted to work out.
Repetition was a big problem I had with the book. There was one theme that broke my concentration as it would repeatedly pop up. Every single time Elin would have an argument or disagreement with her boyfriend Will it would end with the inner thought “He was right” or “Will’s right”. Every argument. Whether he was right or wrong, doesn’t matter. It felt like I was just reading the same thing over and over.
Then there is the overall, or I suppose you could say the underlying, plot of the murders. I really feel that Mrs. Pearse was trying to do too many things at once. The story just goes in too many directions and the connections are just too much of a reach for me. At some point during one of the reveals, I realized I was still reading the book simply because once I get to a certain point I have to finish. I wasn’t enjoying it. I didn’t care who did what anymore, I just wanted to be done. And then, I will not say at what point it happens but during the book, there is a twist that makes no sense at all (feel free to message me if you are wondering what twist, but I am not going to spoil it here).
All that being said, in my opinion, there were hints of a fun book here. The premise was great. If the characters were more likable and relatable, and if she doesn’t try to do so many things in one average-length novel I think Mrs. Pearse will be an absolutely stupendous mystery writer. Despite what I didn’t like about the book, the time and effort that was put into the book are obvious and I know there will be many people who don’t have any of the same problems I did and absolutely love it and don’t feel Mrs. Pearse has a single thing to improve on.
As for my own personal opinion, though I didn’t enjoy the first book, I do recognize talent and I will read Mrs. Pearse’s next book. Maybe it will be exactly like the first one and I won’t care for it. Maybe it will make subtle changes and I’ll find a new favorite book. Either way I recognize mine isn’t the only opinion and I think and hope she will be successful and I look forward to seeing her future works.
Use the following link to buy this book on Amazon.The Sanatorium: A Novel