Review: The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

Let’s take a virtual holiday to a glam and snowy ski resort. The Chalet is a murder mystery / psychological thriller mix with as many twist and turns as a red ski run. Yes, that is a skiing reference. Author Catherine Cooper is a journalist who specialises in travel and ski writing, so it’s no surprise that it is central to her debut book’s plot.

Opening sentence: BREAKING NEWS: A British national is reported to have died at the ski resort of La Madière, France.

But, I’m not a skier…

If you’re thinking ‘I’ve never skied so not sure I’ll be into this.’ Well, I’m here to reassure you that I’m not a skier either and was completely drawn into the story. I actually found I learnt things about the sport as I read, as it goes into quite good detail.

So, aside from skiing, what’s the story?

Told in two time frames, 20 years apart: In 1998, two brothers go missing while attempting a hazardous ski trail and one of them ends up dead. 20 years later, at the same resort, La Madière in France, two couples – Ria and Hugo and Simon and Cass (and their baby) – are on a glamorous holiday. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear they have (or at least one of them has) a link with the events that happened 20 years previously…

There’ll be no spoilers from me, so I’ll just say that the plot developed at a speedy yet satisfying pace and Ria was the character that jumped out for me. She was clever, scathing and – like a few of the others characters too – hiding secrets that you just couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of.

There were a few times I thought I’d worked out where the story was going, only for it to cleverly swerve in a different direction. That is the mark of a great murder mystery. And a great skier. The snowy setting makes The Chalet an ideal winter read and a perfect slice of escapism for right now.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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