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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Disinvited Guest

ISBN: 978-0063248991

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 07/12/2022

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

From two-time Mary Higgins Clark Award–winning author Carol Goodman comes a new mystery, about a group of friends isolated on a remote island with a history of foul play.

Lucy Harper still has traumatic memories and lingering health problems from the 2020 pandemic. So, when a new virus surfaces years later, she and her husband, Reed, seek refuge on his family’s private island off the coast of Maine. Ostensibly safely sequestered with their five closest friends and family, Lucy should feel at ease. So why does she feel the weight of the island’s dark history pushing down on the group?

As Lucy uncovers Reed’s family secrets and the island’s history as a quarantine hospital for typhus patients, she becomes obsessed with the past and feels her own grip on reality slipping. Tempers flare, strange signs appear in the woods, and accidents turn deadly. Is the island haunted by the dead? Or is someone amongst the living taking their revenge?


“Goodman, a master genre-blender, has integrated elements of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s 'had-I-but-known' gambit and Agatha Christie’s 'alone-on-an-island' theme to come up with a real winner.”

— Booklist (starred review)

“This smooth cocktail of refreshingly chilly suspense is sure to win [Goodman] new fans.” — Publishers Weekly

“The Disinvited Guest is a tense, fever dream of a thriller in an extraordinary, atmospheric setting, gripping from first page to last. In a world under attack from a new virus, seven friends take refuge on a private, fog-drenched island where memories are both long and unreliable, illness lurks, the terrain is treacherous and even the island’s history has claws. Carol Goodman is a brilliant writer, and she shines here. Loved it.”

— Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Long Weekend

"Carol Goodman’s The Stranger Behind You is at once a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller, a powerful meditation on the deep bonds and power of female friendship, and a colorful glimpse of New York City old and new. In a twisting, mesmerizing story that is as beautifuly written as it is utterly propulsive, Goodman weaves a dream that blends the past and the present, takes us deep into the hearts and souls of her characters, and keeps us breathlessly turning the pages right to the shocking and poignant end. I absolutely loved this layered and moving novel!”

— Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions on the 7:45

“The Stranger Behind You is a captivating exploration of sexual harassment, friendship, ambition, and how women join together to overcome trauma. It is as classic as it is timely, as heartbreaking as it is suspenseful. Stunning. I couldn’t put it down.”

— Danielle Trussoni, New York Times bestselling author of Angelology and The Ancestor

“[A] superior thriller…The plot takes many terrifying twists and turns en route to the surprising climax. Those with a taste for the gothic will be richly rewarded.”

— Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Stranger Behind You

“A mesmerizing narrative that culminates in a poignant ending to a brilliant journey. Gothic? Note the phantom lye and bleach stench and wait for it! Make sure fans of Shari Lapena and Alison Gaylin get their hands on this one.”

— Booklist on The Stranger Behind You

“The final third of the book is a real rollercoaster ride…Goodman saves some great plot twists for the final pages, including a big one that I never saw coming—the kind of surprise that will make you want to go back and reread it.”

— on The Stranger Behind You

My Review

Bestselling author Carol Goodman returns following The Stranger Behind You with her latest chilling, atmospheric gothic mystery thriller —THE DISINVITED GUEST. A group of friends isolated on a remote island with a history of foul play.

Is the island haunted by the dead? Or is there something more sinister—someone among them?

Set in the future, it has been ten years since the 2020 pandemic. There is now a new pandemic to prepare for.

Lucy Harper is a writer that put everything she had into her last book. She had written her first two years after college about how lives changed when the pandemic hit. It had been successful enough that she got a job teaching creative writing at the local college and a contract for a second book.

But now, eight years later, she hasn't been able to write. She feels like she has not really lived since then. How can she write about a life not lived?

Now there is a new virus and Lucy is still thinking about her near-death experience with the first one in 2020. Her heart stopped in the hospital for three minutes and thirty seconds but not enough to cause damage.

So Reed and Lucy get tested and decide to take refuge on Reed's (husband & sister) family's private island off the coast of Maine with five of their closest friends. He is accompanied by his sister Liz and her girlfriend, Nikko, his wife Lucy, Lucy's best friend Ada, her husband, Crosby, and Mac, Reed's best friend from high school.

Many of them lost their parents, families, and friends during the first pandemic, and of course, the author does a great job in summarizing what we live through today with the pandemic. They all had been touched by the tragedies and high anxieties and fears since they are now going through it again.

The mansion/cottage is rather imposing located on Fever Island. Upon arrival not what Lucy expected. It is massive. They arrived by boat with their supplies. She had never been there even though Reed of course came without her over the years.

It is located on a rocky landscape, three stories high on a cliff, with a stone foundation made of the same granite as the cliff, cedar shingles and trim with peaked eaves. A columned porch runs across the front with a gazebo, tower, and widow's walk. It is massive and seems to say, Keep away, I protect my own.

Fever Island is located three miles off the coast of Maine. The island was used as a station for the sick arriving from Ireland in the 1800s before they could enter the mainland. Later the island became the property of the wealthy Harper family.

Narrated by Lucy, she plans to spend her time writing about its Celtic rituals, the ghosts, and tragedies. At first, all goes well, until things start happening. Do the seven really know one another? Does Lucy really know Reed?

Fever Island has its own sordid past. It was named this when used as a quarantine site in the 19th century. During the 1850s, the island served as a quarantine site for Irish famine ships overflowing with dying typhus-infected migrants.

The cliffside setting is remote and surrounded by water. On top of this, Lucy begins digging into the property and family secrets. The disturbing and unsettling journal entries. She becomes obsessed with the past and worries about her own sanity.

Strange things begin happening. Lucy feels unsafe. Her friend said she should write about the ghosts but is this making her fearful or is the island casting a dark spell on everyone?

Lucy immerses herself in the journals she finds that were kept during the typhus and Reed's ancestor was a physician. What family secrets is Reed hiding? Is the island cursed? Are there witches?

When accidents turn deadly, Lucy fears for her life. They are stuck on this island and in this house. Something dark and cold lives in the heart of the island.

This TWISTY one will make your heart pound! I have read several books by Goodman and am a huge fan. I loved the map of Fever Island included at the front of the book, which helps you relate to the locations referenced in the novel. Both timelines were equally as compelling, giving that eerie atmospheric feeling.

The author does a fantastic job of creating anxieties, fears, claustrophobia, and paranoia during the past and current pandemics. Cleverly written and blended with humor, suspense, and mystery, THE DISINVITED GUEST reads like a creepy dark, locked-room cat-and-mouse mystery/psychological thriller.

There are past family secrets, the island, the college friendships, betrayals, the indiscretions, the present, and ghosts which all give a sense of foreboding and darkness. The setting is vivid, descriptive, and alluring - drawing you in.

I was not warm and fuzzy or particularly invested with any of the characters, and the dark bold font used (for journal entries) throughout was bothersome to my eyes.

Overall a chilling mystery and scary ghostly storytelling. As always the author delivers an Agatha Christie/Hitchcockian vibe infused with literary sprinklings with her signature style. For fans of authors: Jennifer McMahon, Lisa Unger, Lisa Jewell, and Ruth Ware.

Thank you to #WilliamMorrow and #NetGalley for an ARC to read, review, and enjoy!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

About the Author

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz. WEBSITE







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