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Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

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The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is one creepy mystery!

I always pay attention to the celebrity book clubs, especially Reese’s Book Club. She selects an interesting mix of books and oftentimes, elevates debut authors. Another fun aspect is that she likes to turn some of her book club books into a movie or TV series.

For her February 2021 pick, Reese selected The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. This is a really good winter read. And while I sometimes have issues with thrillers, I liked that this one is more of a mystery. I was so captivated—I read it in one sitting!

Here’s the Synopsis:

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . .

The Setting

This is a five-star setting—so vivid and creepy. Sanatoriums were medical facilities that treated chronic illnesses. It’s mainly associated with the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. But developers decided to turn this Sanatorium nestled up in the Swiss Alps into a luxury hotel. Kind of an interesting choice there, right? I don’t know if I would be so keen to stay at there if I had the chance. And there is more than meets the eye with this place in particular.  

The winter storm adds more intrigue, especially as the police aren’t able to make their way to the hotel.

The Mystery

There’s quite a lot going on in this novel. The protagonist, Elin, is hesitant about reuniting with her brother Isaac. We learn why the two are estranged and then, Elin is called upon to use her detective skills when Laure goes missing—something she hasn’t tapped into since a previous investigation went wrong.

Add in the chilling vibe of the hotel and the bad winter storm: you got yourself an engaging gothic thriller.

My one complaint about the novel is that I thought it was a bit too long. I like my mystery/thrillers to be under 400 pages. So there was a bit of exposition that I thought could have been reduced. I found myself waiting for the big reveal and there were still 100 pages left.

Sometimes I can predict exactly what happens in a thriller or mystery and since I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, all I will say is that I wasn’t able to make a single guess where The Sanatorium was going. I just went along for the ride, which was really refreshing.

Verdict

Overall, I really liked this one—it was a nice change from basic thrillers of the past and really emphasized the mystery side. If you’re reading this with your book club, check out my book club questions here.

Pam Lawler

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

I loved the book, however the last page confused me! Who was the Arabic man with his family and how did it fit into the story?

Catherine

Saturday 20th of February 2021

A sequel in store perhaps?