Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Who’s in the mood for a good-old murder mystery? You’re in luck. The Sanatorium plays by the rules to give us a high-octane thriller that will make you think twice about booking a trip to an isolated hotel in the mountains…

This story is guaranteed escapism, which is (I think we can all agree) very much a requirement from reading at the moment.

Opening sentence: Discarded medical equipment litters the floor: surgical tools blistered with rust, broken bottles, jars, the scratched spine of an old invalid chair.

A luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps

An exclusive hotel in the Swiss Alps provides us with our isolated setting (which gave me The Shining vibes). It used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium – artefacts from its medical days are now displayed in expensive cabinets in the hotel. As a nod to its past and also, it turns out, its present.

Her body is reacting to something here, something living, breathing, something woven into the DNA of the building, as much a part of it as its walls and floors.

Elin and her boyfriend Will are invited to the hotel for her brother Issac’s engagement party. She has a strained relationship with Issac so is reluctant to go. However, she is currently on a sabbatical from her job as a police detective due to her traumatic experience during a case.

She decides a break will do her good. She was mistaken. Issac’s fiancée, Laure disappears and a hotel worker is discovered murdered in very suspicious circumstances – including being clad in a terrifying gas mask (relics from the days of the sanatorium). Just who is tying the past and present together and killing people while they’re at it?

Avalanche!

To add to the repressive atmosphere a huge storm engulfs the hotel, causing an avalanche. The police can’t get through and time is running out so Elin has to step up and find out who the murderer is.

There was a nod to the queen of murder mystery – Agatha Christie, when Elin writes a list of clues and what she knows, which I did enjoy.

An adrenaline filled page turner, if you’re looking for a clever little murder mystery that’s an engrossing slice of escapism, pay a visit to The Sanatorium.

If you like the sound of this read, I can also recommend, in a similar snowy setting / murder mystery vein: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and The Chalet by Catherine Cooper.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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