Reviews for The Sanatorium

by Sarah Pearse

Publishers Weekly
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Pearse’s engrossing debut boasts a highly atmospheric setting. Le Sommet, originally a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in the Swiss Alps, was abandoned for decades, until it was renovated as a luxury hotel. British police detective Elin Warner and her boyfriend, Willy Riley, come to Le Sommet at the invitation of her selfish brother, Isaac, a university lecturer in Lausanne, and his fiancée, Laure Strehl, to celebrate the couple’s engagement. The emotionally fragile Elin is on break from her job, following an intense case and the death of her mother, whose funeral Isaac was too busy to attend. When Laure goes missing the day after Elin and Willy’s arrival, Elin learns that others have disappeared from Le Sommet, long shrouded in sinister rumors about its patients’ brutal treatment. Might Isaac, whom she blames for the decades-old death of their brother, somehow be involved? The discovery of a body raises the stakes. Readers will applaud as Elin, for all her anxieties, emerges as a competent sleuth. This dark tale of family dynamics is sure to please suspense fans. Agent: Charlotte Seymour, Andrew Nurnberg Assoc. (Feb.)

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From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Le Sommet, the prestigious hotel fashioned from a former TB sanatorium, is more than just the setting for this atmospheric debut mystery: the building’s history ultimately propels the plot. Elin Warner, an English police detective on extended leave, is somewhat fragile when she arrives at the hotel high in the Swiss Alps to celebrate the engagement of Elin’s older brother, Isaac, and Elin’s old friend Laure Strehl, a hotel staffer. Elin is dealing not only with the aftermath of a difficult case (about which more backstory would have been welcome), she also has a major unresolved issue with Isaac about the death of their younger brother, Sam, years earlier, as well as regret in letting her friendship with Laure wither. Then, as heavy snows lead to potential avalanches and the hotel is largely evacuated and totally isolated, bodies are discovered; it’s clear that a killer is on the loose. With police unable to reach the hotel, Elin assumes the role of investigator, eventually putting herself at risk. Pearse not only creates believably fallible characters, she also vividly portrays the frigid landscape of Le Sommet buffeted by blizzards, and a chilling epilogue cries out for a sequel. Crime-fiction readers will want to keep an eye on Pearse.