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The Sanatorium


The Sanatorium

January in the Alps, days spent at a luxury Swiss hotel far above the valley, as guests of the newly engaged couple. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? It could be, except that Elin Warner doesn’t want to go, because the groom-to-be is her estranged brother, Isaac. She is currently on leave from her job with the police back in the UK due to an incident, and her boyfriend Will is pressuring her to make a commitment.

Once they reach Le Sommet, Elin’s discomfort only increases with the sinister vibes the building gives off. Originally built as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, the place boasts massive walls of windows. For most hotel guests, that means a spectacular view, but for Elin, it leaves her with an uneasy feeling of exposure. And as a huge storm descends upon the area, the swirling snowflakes battering the panes further unsettle her. Will urges her to just relax and enjoy their time there. But from the moment Isaac welcomes them to the hotel, Elin’s discomfort grows deeper. She has not seen him in years, and for good reason. She doesn’t trust him, and hasn’t since their little brother died. What really happened that day? She came to find out.

"THE SANATORIUM...grips from the first page and never lets go.... What could be more eerie than an abandoned hospital where it is believed that sinister secrets are hidden but now is reborn as a posh hotel?"

Elin and Will barely have time to settle in before tragedy strikes. Someone goes missing. From the start, the hotel staff seems to be on edge. Within a day or two, a body is found on the property. Relax? For Elin, that’s not possible. In fact, most of the guests are on edge now. A series of events has been set in motion. It becomes clear that their peaceful getaway has turned into a nightmare. With these new horrors and with the forecast worsening, everyone is ordered to evacuate. Will has wanted to do that for a while anyway. But before the last bus can depart, an avalanche roars across the road, stranding a handful of guests and staff, including Elin and Will. They are totally cut off with no way for the police to reach them. The only road is blocked, and high winds have grounded air access. They are trapped. With a brutal killer.

Reluctantly, Elin takes the helm to do some basic investigating. She once thrived on the detective life. Although a little rusty, maybe she can pull it off again. However, when another body shows up, she struggles with the demons from her past, demons that threaten to paralyze her and convince her that she’s simply not good enough. But there is no one else. And help is not coming.

Elin’s past may not be the only issue. Le Sommet’s past itself may hold the secret to the killer’s motive. For too long, that motive remains elusive, just beyond Elin’s grasp. The thought almost takes form several times, only to evaporate like steam. She has the same problem with the events that took place the day her brother died. She must focus. She must remember. Lives depend on it.

THE SANATORIUM, Sarah Pearse’s debut novel, grips from the first page and never lets go. What could be more eerie than an abandoned hospital where it is believed that sinister secrets are hidden but now is reborn as a posh hotel? Add to that a beautiful background of the snowy Alps, a forested glade as a setting. Bring in guests, let them get comfortable, then make one of them disappear, toss a body into the pool and hammer the whole scene with an unprecedented snowstorm. You have the makings of a killer thriller.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 19, 2021

The Sanatorium
by Sarah Pearse