reviewed by Pam Guynn
Sarah Pearse infuses The Retreat, the second book in the Detective Sergeant Elin Warner series, with death, action, investigation, and suspense in an atmospheric mystery in her latest book. A wellness retreat has opened on Cary Island off the coast of England.
When a woman’s body is found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion, Elin and her partner, Detective Constable Steed, are called to investigate. While it appears to be a tragic fall, the victim wasn’t a guest. When a second person dies the next day, Elin and Steed suspect something more is occurring. However, why would visitors be targeted? Is anyone else in danger?
Elin is a flawed character and readers will better understand her if they have read book one in the series. She has been having panic attacks, experiences anxiety, and has trouble sleeping, but wants to get back to the job she loved with the Major Crimes Investigation Team. She experiences significant character growth during the course of the novel. Her pursuit of justice and her determination to solve the mysteries allow readers to easily connect and urge her on to success. Steed’s character is less well-developed, but is supportive and efficient. There’s a large cast of characters at the resort that have a variety of depths in their supporting or opposing roles.
Deaths, an island with a history of murder, violence, superstition, and child abuse, and a strong storm make this a disturbing and suspenseful story. The world-building was well-done and the premise was excellent. While the beginning pace was somewhat slow and the middle was okay, the ending was heart-pounding, nail-biting, and exhilarating. The point of view changed several times. While this gave the reader information that the investigating officers didn’t have, it slowed the pace. I would have preferred the point of view to be more exclusively that of Erin. However, it allows the reader to see how each of the characters connects to the situation and deepens the conflict. The plot twists kept this reader on her toes and the epilogue revealed something that I had guessed. Will it be a thread in the next book? In addition, other threads could be included in future books. The author weaves themes of death, friendship, jealousy, revenge, grief, and relationships of all types into an excellent plot.
Overall, this engaging novel was never dull and had periods of intense suspense and action. If you enjoy locked room (island) mysteries, then I recommend that you check out this one. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
PENGUIN GROUP Viking – Pamela Dorman Books and Sarah Pearse provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for July 19, 2022.