It’s been a while since I put a book review on this blog, so it must be time for one.

English Eva and her Spanish partner, José, have restored an old house in the Spanish countryside and are planning to open it for wellness retreats. José has borrowed heavily to make their dream come true and is desperate for it to be a success. They decide to have a “soft opening” with just six guests who are offered a half price holiday while any problems are ironed out. Unfortunately for Eva and José, one of the guests harbours an old grudge. Things start to go wrong – little things at first, but by the end of the five-day holiday, there is murder afoot.

Karen King’s latest has distinct aspects of Agatha Christie. Gradually, we learn that almost all the characters have secrets in their past and almost any of them might have a reason for wanting the retreat to be a failure.

As the tension ramps up, so suspicion shifts from one guest to another. I ended up suspecting almost everyone in turn and I didn’t see the answer coming.

Karen King is a well-established writer and the book is an easy read. Her background as a romantic author is reflected in the romance between Eva and José at the beginning and another blossoming romance in the course of the story, but she does not allow these relationships to get in the way of her mystery. She also brings her love of Spain to the book, and particularly of Spanish food. The meals José provides (he’s a trained cook) are described in detail and the book will give you lots of menu ideas if nothing else. Eva’s wellness techniques are also covered which didn’t interest me as much, but that may just be because I’m greedy.

One of the things I struggle with in Agatha Christie books is the way that all the characters/suspects are introduced in a bunch and then I spend the rest of the book trying to remember which one was the pilot’s ex-girlfriend and which had the sister who had an affair with the pianist. This could so easily have been the same, with six guests arriving together and some important relationships between them and their hosts. It’s not a problem here, though. There’s an English couple (she’s the one with a dark memory), an American couple, both weird but she’s weirder, an old friend of Eva (shares a Dark Secret) and a cousin of José (also with a Dark Secret). King makes it easy to keep track of them all and their respective links to Eva and José.

Whodunnit? And will Eva and José’s relationship survive once their own secrets come out? No spoilers here: you’ll have to read it to find out.

A fun read to extend that summer feeling a little longer.

Publishing 13 October

The Retreat will be published on 13 October and is available for pre-order now HERE. It’s just £1.99 on Amazon or £9.67 in paperback.

A Word from our Sponsor

Also publishing in October will be the third of my Urban Fantasy stories featuring the vampire detective, Chief Inspector Pole. Urban Fantasy is a bit misleading here because this story finds the urbane Pole well out of his comfort zone investigating a murder in the mid-Wales hills. I’ll be telling you more (much more) about Monsters in the Mist over the next few weeks.

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