The Guest House
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
“..when you mess with somebody’s fingers or toes, you mess with their whole being. Don’t get me wrong, when you slash a fucker’s mouth you know you’re messing them up for life, but if you hurt somebody’s fingers or feet, you know that even years from now, when they’re trying to tie their laces on a cold morning, they’ll look back at the mistakes they made and wish it had all been so very different…”
David Mark loves flawed characters; disfigured, down on their luck men with an alcohol problem who always rise above. This is my second book by this brilliant author, and it was amazing. Mark writes crime fiction and wonderful, interesting characters who prove more and more endearing. Set in Scotland on the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula, Ronni Ashcroft is a 35-year-old mother to three children, Lilly, Atticus and Poppy, all with unique personalities. She is running a guest house by herself after finding out her husband is cheating on her. She has fired her cleaner Theresa, a character in her own right, who still shows up every day to clean, despite being fired many months ago. Through all of this chaos, Ronni has a potential boyfriend – a drifter called Bishop. When Bishop disappears and the police come to question her, Ronni finds herself caught up in a battle to save herself and her children from the dark world of illegal organ transplants, crime lords, and evildoers.
Nicholas Roe is currently a houseguest of Ronni’s. Similar to Rowan Blake from Into The Woods, he is an alcoholic in a bad way. We never find out what he is dying from, but he is quite literally the walking dead. This marvelous character is sick, broken down and oozing of death, decay, and deception. R A wonderfully atmospheric and riveting crime read, underpinned with a dark sense of humor, that I think will appeal to many crime and mystery readers. David Mark’s descriptions of odors, teeth, skin color are on point and the reader can almost smell these characters. The Guest House is a great story but can get confusing. As one reader put it, the good are bad, but the bad can be good, too. But when they are all trying to outdo each other, the reader can get lost. All the characters have these enormous personalities, which can sometimes be hard to follow.
The Guest House is a dark book. It takes place in a desolate area of the world, in which the majority of the time is dark and very grey. It can be graphic with torture and death, and the darkness only adds to that theme. Some readers may suggest making it less complex, but the complexity makes this story work so well.