With The House Guest, Hank Phillippi Ryan continues her string of excellent cat-and-mouse stand-alone thrillers, keeping readers wrong-footed throughout as they struggle to determine who is telling the truth and whose every word is a lie.
The House Guest begins as Alyssa Macallen has just recently received news that her husband of eight years is breaking up with her—completely out of the blue. Unable to process her devastation, Alyssa finds herself at a hotel bar where she meets Bree Lorrance. Recognizing in Bree a fellow shattered soul, Alyssa invites the woman to move into the guest house on her property.
According to the separation documents, Alyssa’s husband is not allowed to enter the property, but Alyssa has been setting small traps which lead her to believe that he is sneaking in when she is not at home. That unease makes her invitation to Bree less foolhardy than it might seem on the surface. For Alyssa, helping Bree—who is also hiding from a potentially violent man from her past—is just a bonus outcome next to having someone else close by, returning her home to the safe refuge it once was.
Just as both women begin dealing with their individual challenges, a mysterious man named Dez enters their lives and the trajectory for both Alyssa and Bree is forever altered. Was this a case of “opportunity knocks” or is there some larger and more complex game being played behind the scenes. Only Hank Phillippi Ryan knows, and she plans to keep her fans guessing through several twists, more than a few unexpected turns, and a final revelation that will truly surprise.
Crafting relatable female characters with multifaceted personalities has always been Hank Phillippi Ryan’s stock-in-trade. Both of the women in The House Guest have the potential to be manipulating the other, themselves, and the reader, but their subterfuge is so deeply ingrained in their psyche that ferreting out the truth is harder than one might expect. Here the author spends much of the first half of the book making sure readers feel as though they know and understand both Alyssa and Bree before pulling the rug out from under not only them, but the reader as well.
The second half of The House Guest picks up momentum quickly and does an excellent job of changing reader’s minds—causing them to second-guess everything they thought to be true. These new revelations are perfectly placed to keep the reader turning pages long into the night. Hank Phillippi Ryan knows how to build suspense and this thriller simmers with unease from the opening pages, with the heat ratcheting up with every page turn, so that by the end of the novel, The House Guest is at full boil with everyone in danger of getting burned.
There is little doubt that Hank Phillippi Ryan knows her strengths and is dedicated to giving readers a wild ride. If you are a fan of cat-and-mouse escapades, this is an author that should be on your must-buy list. Behind the beauty and glamor of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The House Guest lies a twisted series of shocks that are guaranteed to please.
Disclaimer: A print 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.