The Sanatorium

Another lengthy and laborious read from the thriller stack of Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Hello Sunshine. With this, I am beginning to doubt her choices when it comes to thrillers. Even her previous picks were duds. In this book, the protagonist, Elin, a detective in the UK, who is battling PTSD associated with the death of her younger brother; is now on a vacation with her boyfriend, Will, in a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. The hotel has a dark and sinister past. Before the renovation, it used to be a sanatorium for Tuberculosis patients where some questionable practices were carried out. However, Elin and Will are here in the hotel for the engagement party of her other brother Isaac with Laure. As the weather becomes increasingly harsh with an impending blizzard, Laura disappears suddenly on the eve of the engagement. This is followed by a spate of brutal murders and Elin takes it upon herself to find the murderer.

Elin, does the most shoddy job as a detective. Also her intuitions are forever wrong. Her obstinacy to remain deliberately difficult because of the traumatic past, makes her the most annoying character. Will comes across as a narcissist who keeps gaslighting Elin. It’s appalling to note that the author, Sarah Pearse, has allowed it and has shown Elin to be accepting of it.

It’s become a trend to put troubled and damaged women as protagonists of thrillers. Very few authors are able to do justice to it and hence assimilate the personal traumas with the thriller plot line. This story should have been buried in the blizzard itself. It’s so ridiculous and drab, which makes me wonder at my own weird compulsion to having completed it.