Carol Goodman is one of those rare authors readers can always rely on to present a gripping story, well told – regardless of each particular novel’s chosen subject matter. As such, many fans will flock to her newest novel eager to see what Goodman has in store this time. The Disinvited Guest is a future-set thriller in which society is still recovering from the traumatic pandemic of 2020, when a new virus surfaces and once again threatens to alter society forever.
Given that we are still in the midst of this current pandemic, some readers may feel unwilling to venture into such a tale for entertainment, however, Carol Goodman is really using this future virus outbreak as a backdrop and reason for isolating her characters on a remote island. It is true that readers will be able to relate to the fear of this unknown threat, as well as the testing procedures to ensure the safety of a group gathering, but it is the isolated locale that soon becomes the nexus for the crime wave to follow that truly draws in mystery enthusiasts.
Seven friends on a remote island when strange and deadly occurrences begin to happen. This setup should call to mind the work of the legend, Dame Agatha Christie. This is most assuredly intentional on Carol Goodman’s part but should not be viewed as derivative in any sense – it is just the launching point for a modern take on the closed-circle-of-suspects mystery.
Few writers are as skilled as Carol Goodman at weaving the past into their narratives. That trend is on display here once again, as one of the new residents discovers the history of the island they are now calling home. Long used as a site to house those that needed to be quarantined for various reasons, the stain of the “unwanted” haunts this place – known to many as Fever Island. This discovery allows Carol Goodman to introduce another of her trademarks: the subtle hint of the supernatural that often pervades so much of everyday life – in this case witches, ghosts, and more.
However, as a crime fiction superstar, Carol Goodman is most interested in the psychology of people. Readers can count on her novels having logical and believable solutions rooted in the real world. Anytime you get seven individuals together for a long period – even if, maybe especially if, they are “friends” – old wounds will rise to the surface and rear their ugly head. That is exactly what happens in The Disinvited Guest. Even in the midst of an existential crisis of survival, the pain of the past cannot be ignored.
Short chapters and detailed journal entries keep the pages of The Disinvited Guest turning quickly. The dread and suspense builds slowly, like a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Fans of the genre will develop their own ideas for solutions, but what Carol Goodman has in store is even more twisted and surprising. Carol Goodman will leave readers breathless and as anxious as ever for her next novel.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.