The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson: a thriller-chiller to relish – book review –

The Christmas Guest by Peter SwansonThe Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson
The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson
If you’re looking for that perfect Christmas mystery gift book, then this sassy and cerebral novella from Peter Swanson, one of America’s best psychological thriller writers, should be top of your list.

Through a reading journey of just 124 pages, this master of suspense manages to string together more twists and turns than a marathon game of snakes and ladders... with one mighty jaw-dropper guaranteed to steal the show.

And just as intriguing is this Massachusetts author’s choice of the very English Cotswolds for his Christmas cracker, but don’t expect a story entirely full of woodland walks and charming pubs because Swanson sets readers on a far darker and more intriguing journey.

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‘Tis the season to be wary! When Ashley Smith – a bright-eyed but lonely American studying in London – is invited to spend Christmas with her classmate Emma Chapman’s family at their Cotswolds manor house, it seems like a perfect country idyll. And for Ashley – who records it all in her diary – there is the added romantic potential of her friend’s twin brother Adam who, she thinks, could be her wildest dream come true.

But is there something strange about the old house which is both stately and rundown? What are the motives of the mysterious and eccentric Chapman family, and what holiday horrors might be lying in wait?

The Christmas Guest is a thriller-chiller to relish as Swanson employs his wonderfully addictive sense of mischief to this brilliant short story which delivers all the classic mystery tropes but then subverts them in the most delightful and entertaining manner.

Written with the author’s gift for propulsive storytelling, and carefully and creatively constructed through the unsuspecting Ashley’s diary entries, this seasonal stunner – with a sting in its tail – is best read by firelight with a stiff drink to hand!

(Faber & Faber, hardback, £10)

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