Review : The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Plot Summary ( from Goodreads ) :

You won’t want to leave . . . until you can’t .

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 . . . 

My thoughts on the book :

Sarah Pearse ‘ s debut has created a huge buzz on its release and the numerous glowing reviews from the blogging community made me pick up this one . I also understand that it was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick . After finishing this book ( finally ) , I am still wondering even as I am writing this review if this the same book which had got such glowing reviews .

It is given to understand that our ” detective ” Elin is suffering from PTSD ( there are some hints about it being associated with a case she had last worked on ) and that she is on extended leave . That poor husband of Elin is concerned that her job will not be forever on hold – my only concern is that Elin ‘ s superiors do not get a wind of her functioning style in the Le Sommet case ( if they do , she can forget that she ever had a career as a police detective ) . . . Elin ‘ s detection skills are non – existent . I plodded through all the sibling – rivalry drama , the strained – relationship dramas , Elin ‘ s panic attacks and everything in between only with the hope that some pieces of the puzzle will fall into place thanks to Elin ‘ s efficient detective work . The pieces fall into place albeit very slowly because what a reader can spot a mile off , Elin can recognize it only when it is staring in her face ** . One of the killers got very tired of playing the cat – and – mouse – game with Elin and lures her into a trap and we finally get to know the identity of one of the killers ( and not because of Elin ‘ s ” detective work ” as Elin delusively likes to call her running – around – in – circles ) . There are several loose ends ** and the idea of having the narrative thread about Elin ‘ s obsession about the death of her younger brother and ” wanting to know the truth ” seemed only for the sole purpose of giving Elin some baggage ( the readers always love the survivor right ?? ) .

If you are wondering why I stuck with this one till the end , I was constantly expecting it to redeem itself so that I can make a certain degree of peace with atleast those 3 – star reviews ) . Also the identity reveal of one of the killers early on made only some of the later revelations even more absurd ** . The writing was pretty decent but if the author had cut down Elin ‘ s family drama and her own inner monologue about her nagging self doubts and her conclusions ( which I had learnt to dismiss around 40% into the book ) , it could have been somewhat pacier . To her credit I should say that Pearse captures the atmosphere and the dynamics of several relationships pretty well but her writing alone cannot redeem this one . . . The finale just made me realize that there was a credible motive only for one murder ( compared to the other two for which the motive seemed to be only the author ‘ s obsession to create a And Then There Were None style suspense ) . The epilogue hinted at a sequel – now that is a scary thought . . .

** Spoiler Alert **

When the first victim is discovered with the hands ( with some fingers missing ) and feet tied , wearing an old – fashioned gas mask Elin comes to the conclusion this was not an accident based on the fact the body was weighed down by sandbags . ( Duh ! ! ! )

When it is revealed that Margot had contacted Lucas Caron prior to her getting a situation at the hotel about her relative who had been one of the patients in the sanatorium , it raises the question if the entire premise isn ‘ t somewhat shaky . Why wouldn ‘ t the signature of the murderer make Lucas suspect Margot ?

Talking about the murderer ‘ s signature on every crime scene , ( the bracelets on the victim ‘s amputated digits with number engraved on the inside ) it clearly points to the Sanatorium . Still , it takes Elin a good two – thirds of the novel to finally arrive at this conclusion ) . Even if the signature might be a red herring thrown in to mislead the law enforcement as to the motive , still Elin takes too long to formulate even an assumption to go by . She is too quick on her feet to actually do any thinking . It would not be wrong to say that she equates running around with ” doing detective work ” . . .

When the moving finger picks out the next suspect , it just does not give the person the strongest of motives to have actually committed these murders ( considering the level of premeditation it requires to get the signature in the crime scene without leaving behind any clues ) . The sad truth is that the REAL murderous duo also do not have a great motive to go to this extent with the murders . . .

Why did Isaac lie about his job ??

Rating : 2 / 5

If you have already read The Sanatorium , let me know in the comments section about your thoughts on the book  . If you have any interesting recommendations , please do share them . Until the next review then . . .

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