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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Retreat

ISBN: 978-0593489420

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Publication Date: 07/19/2022

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium, a Reese’s Book Club pick, here, Detective Elin Warner uncovers the truth behind the suspicious deaths on a stunning island getaway

They couldn’t wait to stay here.

An idyllic wellness retreat has opened on an island off the English coast, promising rest and relaxation—but the island itself, known locally as Reaper’s Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it’s rumored to be cursed.

But now they can’t leave.

A young woman is found dead below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But Detective Elin Warner soon learns the victim wasn’t a guest—she wasn’t meant to be on the island at all.

And they would do anything to escape.

The longer Elin stays, the more secrets she uncovers. And when someone else drowns in a diving incident, Elin begins to suspect that there’s nothing accidental about these deaths. But why would someone target the guests at this luxury resort? Elin must find the killer—before the island’s history starts to repeat itself.

Most are here to recharge and refresh. But someone’s here for revenge. . . .


“Well-written fusion of psychological thriller and whodunnit. . . Pearse smartly reworks Christie’s setting, making her island at once a gothic throwback, with caves and talk of a curse, and a very 21st-century escape, with green values and holistic therapy. And she’s very good on the relationships within the group as tension builds.”

—Sunday Times (London)

“This thriller novel is so dark and tense, it’s the perfect read for anyone lounging in the sun this summer, grateful that your holiday isn’t so chaotic.”

—Cosmopolitan (London)

“A riveting, twisty page-turner . . . Readers of Pearse’s earlier book or Ruth Ware’s suspense novels will be hard-pressed to put down this atmospheric, sometimes creepy novel.”

—Library Journal (starred review)

“Full of foreboding and high-stakes tension, Sarah Pearse's latest is a page-turner. The past doesn't stay buried for long, at sea or on land, and what comes to the surface is both shocking and chilling.”

—Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid

“Pearse goes from strength to strength in The Retreat. The suspense inexorably builds to a stunning climax. An added treat is the return of Elin Warner, who is a fascinating character one can only root for.”

—David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dream Town

“If Sarah Pearse’s sensational debut The Sanatorium summoned the dangerous spirits of Gothic storytellers past, her new novel The Retreat recalls the one-by-one-by-one nerve-shredding of Agatha Christie at her darkest. Pearse is one of those rare contemporary writers—alongside Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and Alice Feeney—both reviving and refreshing the traditions of mystery fiction. A fresh, daring, irresistible thriller.”

—A. J. Finn, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Woman in the Window

“Gut-wrenching, taut, and brilliantly claustrophobic, The Retreat delivers twist after devastating twist. I could not put it down—an absolute must-read.”

—Rosie Walsh, New York Times bestselling author of The Love of My Life

“Sarah Pearse has done it again! The Retreat is a heart-pounding, adrenaline-soaked thrill ride, packed with well-drawn characters, settings so real you could touch them, and cliffhangers and twists as belly-flipping as a dive off the fictional island's Reaper's Rock. Block off your schedule, because once you start reading, you won't be able to stop.”

—Andrea Bartz, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Never Here

“Sarah Pearse has expertly crafted another eerie, atmospheric thriller that will have you looking over your shoulder as you read. A wonderfully chilling story of grief, revenge, and family secrets. An absorbing escape!”

—Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push

“Deliciously paced with rich worldbuilding, The Retreat teems with questionable motives, unspoken frustrations, and hair-raising cliffhangers. Pearse's latest thriller is a reminder that beneath the glimmering exterior of the places and people we love, vengeance often lurks. I absolutely could not put this book down!”

—Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

“Detective Elin Warner is back in another atmospheric thriller. Pearse cleverly develops intrigue and ramps up the tension relentlessly as the stakes become deadly. Fans of The Sanatorium will love it.”

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

“Dazzling and inventive, like an Agatha Christie mystery split open by a heatwave. Sarah Pearse won readers' hearts with The Sanatorium, and The Retreat is every bit as transporting, with another unforgettable setting and a complex web of secrets. I didn't want it to end.”

—Flynn Berry, New York Times bestselling author of Northern Spy

“Be careful who you root for, as no character is safe in Sarah Pearse’s new novel The Retreat. In the spirit of a true thriller, the tension is taut and the suspense is real as the pace builds to a heart-stopping finale. A triumphant second novel, which is no mean feat.”

—Sandie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Woman

“A story as unsettling as the island that serves as its setting. Don't trust anyone at The Retreat.”

—Stacy Willingham, New York Times bestselling author of A Flicker in the Dark

“Unsettling, unnerving and unforgettable. The Retreat is the kind of creepy, atmospheric thriller that burrows deep beneath your skin until the chilling climax.”

—Chris Whitaker, New York Times bestselling author of We Begin at the End

“With The Retreat, Sarah Pearse confirms her spot as a world-class thriller writer. Superb.”

—Steve Cavanagh, author of Thirteen

“Just like The Sanatorium, The Retreat tells a twisty, chilling and tense tale in a location so vividly imagined, you feel like you’re there too, among the guests. Long may Sarah Pearse continue to ruin the idea of luxury-resort travel for us all…”

—Catherine Ryan Howard, international bestselling author of The Nothing Man

“Atmospheric and richly described, with surprises around every corner. From the terrifying prologue to the chilling final twist, Pearse has created another highly creepy thriller!”

—Allie Reynolds, author of Shiver

“I absolutely loved it. So many threads, more red herrings than a North Sea fishing trawler, cliffhangers galore and my absolute favorite—short, snappy chapters. It's a riveting, twisty turny read, a classic whodunnit with a killer final twist.”

—John Marrs, bestselling author of The One

My Review

Author Sarah Pearse returns with Detective Elin Warner, following The Sanatorium with THE RETREAT —where an idyllic posh wellness retreat hideaway called LUMEN off the English coast turns deadly.

At the conclusion of The Sanatorium someone was ominously watching Elin from afar. In The Retreat, it appears as though this mysterious figure is back, intentionally tweeting at the police with threatening messages directed at Elin.

British police detective Elin Warner is sent to an isolated luxury resort off the coast of Devon with her partner, DC Steed, to investigate a death.

The resort also intermingles with her personal life. Her fiance Will designed the resort, and his sister Farrah is a manager there. Elin’s relationship with the location is complicated. Her boyfriend, Will, is the architect who had hoped the retreat would give the island a much-needed refresh to overcome its dark past.

LUMEN is built on the same island that once housed a school for troublesome boys that burned down decades ago. The wellness retreat is located on Cary Island and taunts R&R. However, the island, known as Reaper's Rock, has a dark, sinister, cursed past and serial killer (named this due to its uniquely shaped rock formation).

The past tragedy included a group of teenagers on a school outing 20 years earlier. The island also hosted a campsite with a string of gruesome murders. From child murders, sinister schoolteachers, and more.

The Leger family—Hana, Jo, Bea, Maya— and their boyfriends (guests) are central to the novel. As time passes and tensions rise, secrets are revealed. Lots of DRAMA.

Presently, one of the guests has fallen to her death.

Elin formerly investigated MAJOR CRIMES, but now she has been assigned lesser duties. She suffered from a breakdown after being unable to catch the guy who killed two young girls in the last installment.

Then more deaths. Are the deaths related? Is the island repeating its cursed dark past? There is, of course, a storm raging in more ways than the weather. Appears someone is targeting a family gathered at the resort for a vacation of bonding.

The guests want to leave. There is no relaxing or recharging here. They fear for their lives. Someone is out for REVENGE. As the bodies pile up, it's clear that someone has a murderous agenda. Is there a killer among them?

Soon, the secrets and connections to the island are unraveled. There are twists, turns, suspense, tension, sibling rivalry, and family dynamics. The setting is creepy, atmospheric, and claustrophobic. The history of the past adds mystery and intrigue as it relates to murder, violence, superstition, and child abuse.

Also, the impending storm adds to the guests' tension, and suspense, with recent deaths, and fears/anxieties. The emotions are high in the dysfunctional family with jealousy, greed, betrayal, lies, friendship, grief, complex relationships, and murder.

A classic whodunnit with a killer final twist.

The pace was slow in the first half and gained speed in the last half. However, Elin is not at her best or the top of her game with her poor decisions and personal issues. Elin and Will’s relationship turns rocky when Elin makes the investigation a priority over him—Will is a jerk.

Some of this may be due to the happenings in the last book. She has been having panic attacks, experiences anxiety, and insomnia, with a strong desire to return to the job she is most passionate about, the Major Crimes Investigation Team.

I look forward to the next installment in the Detective Elin Warner series for all the unanswered questions.

If you enjoy locked-room mysteries like this one on a remote island with dual times and sordid history, revenge, and more, I recommend Carol Goodman's The Disinvited Guest. Also, a journalist's visit to a wellness spa turns into a locked-room sinister psychological thriller: The Insomniac (single not group event) but a great revenge twisted plot.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 3.5 Stars rounded to 4

Pub Date: Jul 19, 2022

About the Author

Photo credit: Photo: Rosie Parsons Photography

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes. WEBSITE







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