The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (2022)
Four strangers are seated at a table in the Boston Public Library reading room when they hear a woman scream. Friendships are formed from the shared experience, but could one of them be hiding a deadly secret? I'll say this to start - the blurb for this book is kind of deceiving, but in a good way! I went in pretty blind and was surprised by the direction the story went in, right from the beginning. The format is so unexpected but really kind of genius, and I love the wild ride it takes the reader on. In a way, you're getting a traditional murder mystery, but it's so much more than that. I don't want to say too much and spoil the surprise! I feel like we got to know the four strangers pretty well, although they each have their secrets, and the subtle pushes from the author towards one character or another will keep you guessing the whole time. For a short novel, the pacing did drag in places, but you'll definitely want to keep reading! 4 stars
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (2021)
Detective Elin Warner is visiting a former sanatorium turned five-star hotel to celebrate her brother's engagement when her brother's fiancée goes missing. A massive storm traps Elin and the other guests at the hotel when it becomes clear that a killer is among them. I was really in the mood for a mystery/thriller, and I was hoping this atmospheric story would fit the bill - while I enjoyed it, there were unfortunately also a lot of issues. The sanatorium/hotel itself was a fantastic setting - minimalist, with a tragic history, and located in the middle of nowhere. It really added a sense of great tension and eeriness. Elin, however, was a bummer. Apparently this is the start of a series focusing on the detective, so Pearse really went for it on the character development; however, Elin's baggage was just so heavy and overwhelming that it made reading a slog sometimes because it seemed like she could barely function. The story also could have been about 100 pages shorter, and the killer's reveal was a bit... underwhelming? It just didn't make a ton of sense. 3 stars
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