It’s murder o’clock at a secluded, snowed-in Catskills resort.
Winter in the Catskills is just the time and place for a woodsy mountain getaway, at least for this ensemble cast. When the Mitchell’s Inn’s weekend guests arrive, “all is covered in a pure, muffling white snow,” and they are ready to relax. It’s not to be. The first evening, Dana Hart tumbles down the grand staircase to her death. It seems to be an accident, but David Paley’s lawyerly instincts lead him to suspect murder. Unfortunately, phone lines are down because of the ice storm raging outside, and the police can’t be called. Even worse, there’s no power and no generator backup. They’re stuck with a dead body, and of course, they really shouldn’t move it to preserve evidence. As the group attempts to make the best of the situation, they begin to realize that nasty secrets aren’t the exception among them but rather the rule, and as those secrets are revealed, paranoia takes hold. When more guests begin to die in suspicious ways, panic spreads, and any good sense that remained among the group blows away in the frigid winter wind. Readers who prefer likable characters won’t find many here, except perhaps Candace White, an author who was hoping for a quiet place to write her new book. Lapena’s (A Stranger in the House, 2017) very loose take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None further suffers from choppy, repetitive prose and an uninspiring reveal.
Dame Agatha did it much, much better.