A somewhat estranged family agrees to meet up for a reunion for an odd reason — one of the Cunningham sons is being released from prison. Ernest Cunningham is the narrator, brother to Michael (the ex-con) and nephew to Katherine, the perfectionist party planner who organized the reunion. She decides to rent out a mountaintop ski resort in the middle of winter. As family members arrive one by one, Ernie shares his observations with no small amount snarkiness.

The Guesthouse itself was a hunting lodge masquerading as the Ritz: every surface, bannister, and door handle had ornate polished-wood accents; there was soft lighting from wall-mounted electric lamps made of frosted glass moulded into flowers, and the foyer even had a red carpet, complete with a chandelier hanging low from the roof, glittering beside the second-floor walkway. In fact, everything from the waist up was almost elegant enough to make up for the snow-damaged lower half: the hotel equivalent of taking a pantsless video call in a collared shirt. ~Pg. 27

It isn’t long — the first morning, in fact — before someone turns up dead. The weird thing is, no one recognizes him. But the cop has already arrived, soon followed by the ex-con, and so the family works on returning their focus to the reunion as best they can. The next shock happens when the officer on site arrests Michael, even though his family insists he hadn’t been released from jail when the crime occurred.

What follows is a thriller with numerous clues, multiple suspects, and of course, a blizzard that traps everyone at the hotel. When everyone is a suspect and no one can escape, time is ticking to find out who the killer is, and what they want. 


This is not a spoiler. The observant reader may have deduced that the section headings here dictate that Marcelo, my stepfather, must have killed -***-, whose corpse I’ve just discovered in the drying room. It makes sense; I’ve set the expectation that there will be a death in each section and, trust me, there has been. I’ve always believed that there are more clues in a mystery novel than just what’s on the page. A book is a physical object, after all, which can betray a few secrets the author does not intend: the placement of section breaks; blank pages; chapter headings. … If a killer is ever revealed with more than a leaflet of pages remaining against your right thumb, they cannot be the real killer; there is simply too much of the book to still be read. ~Pg. 231

The narrator (and by extension the author) makes a big deal of the idea of fair play for the reader. The novel begins with Ronald Knox’s rules for writing a mystery and the vow taken by Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterson, and other members of the Detection Club. And while this book is an irreverent take on the genre, it does make sure to follow the rules. It still manages to offer a surprising mystery.

Fans of zany whodunits, like Glass Onion and Knives Out, will greatly enjoy it.

My thanks to Jes at William Morrow Group for the review copy.

Publisher: ‎Mariner Books (January 17, 2023)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: ‎384 pages
ISBN-10: ‎0063279029

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