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The House Guest


The House Guest

We are barely into June, and already we have what is sure to be one of the year’s best beach reads --- even if the beach is your backyard. THE HOUSE GUEST by Mark Edwards will not be mistaken for deep literature, but it is full of twists, turns and suspense, making it the perfect escapist book for your vacation.

The premise is simple enough. Ruth and Adam are a twenty-something British couple who are staying in New York for the summer. Ruth, an actress who had a part in a popular cult film, is in rehearsal for an important play that is all but certain to be a stepping stone to bigger things. Adam is an aspiring playwright who may have topped out at “aspiring.” That said, kismet enabled them to housesit for Mona and Jack Cunningham in their tony home in Williamsburg.

"[THE HOUSE GUEST] is full of twists, turns and suspense... There are also a couple of chilling moments toward the conclusion that will leave you wondering what happens after the final page."

All is going well --- at least for Ruth --- until one rainy night when there is a knock on the door. Standing there is a young woman named Eden, a friend of the Cunninghams who had told her that she could drop by anytime she was in the area and stay with them. Eden seems to know Mona and Jack very well, and she is soaked, so Ruth and Adam let her in.

Things go well for a few days until Ruth, Adam and Eden have a drunken party of sorts shortly before the Cunninghams are to return home. Ruth and Eden are gone when a groggy Adam awakens the next morning. The house is a total mess, so he straightens things up in time for Mona and Jack’s arrival.

The Cunninghams say that they have no idea who Eden is. They know a police detective, who talks to Adam and takes an instant dislike to him, one that intensifies with each encounter. The cop thinks that he might have something to do with Ruth’s disappearance, as well as a murder. Meanwhile, Adam discovers that Ruth has been fired from her play for failing to show up for rehearsal. He doesn’t know where she is, or the identity of the gray-haired man who is following him.

It’s a bit of a fish-out-of-water story, as Adam, who is anything but a native New Yorker, follows a pair of slender clue threads while trying to find Ruth, or at least discover what happened to her. He gets help from a somewhat unlikely source who has secrets --- and not very good ones --- of their own. The answers take Adam to some unexpected places. By the end of the book, he may wish that he had left well enough alone.

There are a few elements in THE HOUSE GUEST that might give one pause, but Edwards is a terrific storyteller who keeps things moving fast enough that you either won’t notice or won’t care about the occasional hiccup. There are also a couple of chilling moments toward the conclusion that will leave you wondering what happens after the final page. This is a book that is definitely worth picking up and packing.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 5, 2020

The House Guest
by Mark Edwards