By Hank Phillipi Ryan
A Cleverly Woven Story
Alyssa is dumped by Bill, her wealthy husband of eight years, and a divorce is looming. She believes that her husband is determined to cut her off without a cent, and her country club friends have shunned her. Drowning in her sorrows with a drink or two at a bar across town, she meets another lonely woman, Bree Lorrance. The two hit it off, and Alyssia, who is desperately in need of a friend, invites Bree to come to stay at her guest house. Perhaps they can help each out.
Next, the FBI shows up at Alyssa’s home and allege that Bill’s charity fundraising was lining his own pockets. They think Alyssa must have known about the fraud since there is a huge account in her name. Alyssa’s life soon spends out of control, and she doesn't know who she can trust.
Hank Phillipi Ryan can certainly weave a clever story. She been in journalism for 43 years and has seen a lot on which to draw her stories upon. Her latest novel THE HOUSE GUEST will keep you guessing throughout this involved and twisty thriller.
I recently watched an interview with Ryan where she discusses the impetus for THE HOUSE GUEST. She asks how much do we really know about the person laying on the pillow next to us Are they really going to work and doing what we think. How do you really know? They could be doing something illegal for all you know. While this is not a true story, Ryan knew a woman whose story was similar to what she has written about in the book. The woman didn’t know her husband was committing fraud until the police showed up on their door.
Ryan defines this story as a cat and mouse thriller. We don’t know who is the cat and who is the mouse, and who is allied with whom? She sees her job as an author, as trying to pull the rug out from under the reader, so we can’t guess who are the good guys and who are bad. She nailed the rug pull on this story. She described THE HOUSE GUEST as akin to a rubik’s cube. Little bits of the story come from lots of different places, and touch on greed, divorce, betrayal, female empowerment and revenge.
The story is told from Alyssa’s point of view, as an unhappy wife that has been wronged, and her husband is possibly playing tricks on her. Think about the movie Gaslight. She connects up with Bree, think about the movie Thelma and Louise and when they both agree to help each other solve their problems, think Strangers on a Train. It's a bit of a challenging readq but the ending is worth the challenge.
Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published February 7, 2023