Monday, December 11, 2023

The Weekend Retreat

The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski
12/26/23; 352 pages
Graydon House

The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski is a highly recommended mystery where a family gathering quickly deteriorates.

The Van Ness family traditionally gathers together at their Finger Lakes winery estate to celebrate the birthdays of Richard and Harper. It is their 35th birthday this year so they are there along with their spouses, Elle and Lucas, as well as younger brother Zach and his girlfriend Lauren. Richard is an attorney, Harper runs a failing online cosmetics company while Lucas had a successful tech company. Elle plans the weekend as she feels their mother, who recently passed away, would have. The siblings all take her for granted. Zach has been just their playboy younger brother and he's brought girlfriends to the estate before.

Readers know from the opening news story that one person, possibly two have died. This is a locked-room mystery where all the players are trapped on the estate and a big storm is coming. None of the characters are particularly likeable and several are actively self-centered and disagreeable. They are all carrying resentments and jealousies from the past. None of these people like each other and they all have secrets.

The narrative is told through the point-of-view of different of family members and one unnamed party guest. All the infighting, secrets, and attitudes between family members keeps the action interesting as does the creepy setting. The setting includes secret rooms and basement tunnels in the mansion, gifts from an unknown person, an approaching storm, and a vineyard at night which all work together to increase the apprehension. Those who carefully read the novel will know who the unnamed guest is so the real mystery is what ultimately happens. 3.5 rounded up

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Graydon House via Edelweiss.

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