The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

January 5th, 2016 kimbacaffeinate Review 54 Comments

5th Jan
The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
The Guest Room
by Chris Bohjalian
Published by: Random House
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother's bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law's for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother's friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard's life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.

SUSPENSE thriller twisted well written

Opening one of Chris Bohjalian’s novels is like opening a present. Each is unique and masterfully written as he shares everything from suspense to war-torn lovers. The Guest Room takes us to the quiet suburbs of Westchester NY, where a bachelor party ends with a double homicide and far-reaching consequences. Skillfully written and engaging I slipped in and read until the end.

Richard Chapman lives in the suburbs of Westchester, NY with his wife and their daughter. There life is one I could readily identify with. They are content, happy and enjoying a quiet life where Wednesday night’s highlight is popcorn and a Disney movie in their den. Bohjalian begins the story with Richard’s perspective as we learn about the events that unfolded the night of the murders. It was captivating and felt realistic despite the night of debauchery.

The bachelor party is for Richard’s younger, wilder, snot of brother. Be warned, you will quickly draw lines in the sand defining characters you like, can forgive and those you want to back over with your truck. Bohjalian will have you understanding these characters, their flaws and their struggles. He makes you sympathize, forgive and question all while loathing others. The night’s entertainment was two strippers accompanied by their Russian bodyguards. Things quickly get out of hand, but nothing prepares them for the girls stabbing and killing their bodyguards. The author bought the scenes to life vividly without making me squeamish. While mistakes were made and lines were crossed, nothing felt farfetched, and he was able to make their actions feel genuine.

As we meet the girls, the author introduces us to the voice of Alexandra, a dark-haired Russian beauty who as a child dreamed of being a prima ballerina. Through her voice, we learn about human trafficking. I thought the author did a wonderful job of sharing her psyche and allowing us entry into this seedy world. It was chilling, dark and disturbing. I connected and felt for Alexandra and her young friends. Now every time I see a spam mail for Russian girls my heart skips a beat.

The story is told from several perspectives, and broken into chapters. Those of Richard and Alexandra are the most prevalent, but we also get the voice of Richard’s wife and his young daughter. The Guest Room shares the consequences of that fateful night. It was captivating, felt realistic and would translate brilliantly for film.

Bohjalian is a master storyteller and The Guest Room is a perfect example of his writing. I devoured this in a single day and found each perspective as fascinating as the last. He exposes the characters as he sheds light on their emotions, decisions and actions. The ending is climatic, with twists and surprises before leaving us with a ray of hope.

About Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian

Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers.  His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies. Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer. Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated is Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads everything fiction in YA, NA, and Adult. She's a self-professed Whovian, Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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54 Responses to “The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian”

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I never lost of sight of who was speaking as it changed with chapter and as I said it is primarily the two, with a few from wife and daughter.

  1. Tyler H. Jolley

    I agree with everyone else, human trafficking is a problem that seems to be swept under the rug or not discussed. Being able to write a captivating novel that doesn’t feel too preachy is an excellent way bring light to it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really loved that he gave us the story using one of the girls voices. It allowed readers to see how girls end up in this situation. Not just runaways, but good girls.

  2. Nick

    Well WOAH. That took an intense turn it seems. I love the sound of this though, Kim, especially because the book seems so vivid. And yes to everyone talking about human trafficking. You don’t hear a lot about it in the media but it’s a topic that deserves so much more attention than it does no matter how uncomfortable it can be to some. It’s cruel, brutal and violation and therefore more need to know about.
    I’ll add this to my TBR!
    Nick recently posted…Romancing With Nick (1)My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I agree Nick, I think a lot of folks think these girls were already troubled or signed up to get to America. The way the author shed light on it was brilliant, heartbreaking and powerful.

  3. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I loved this one, too, and it made my Top Ten list of favorites for 2015. The book brought out such a wide range of emotions in me, and I definitely wanted to “back over” a couple of the characters with a truck! LOL.

    I especially enjoyed how the human trafficking angle was brought to the fore and lent a different perspective to the Russian girls, who might otherwise have been dismissed as strippers.

    Thanks for sharing…
    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGEMy Profile

  4. Jenny

    Oooo I think my mother in law and sister in law would really like this one Kim, they’re all about the thrillers that have a good twist:) Thanks for the recommendation, I’m excited to share this with them:)
    Jenny recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday: 2016 ResolutionsMy Profile

  5. Katherine

    This sounds amazing and awful all at once. How have I never heard of this author? One of my goals this year is to read more outside my comfort zone and this sounds like it would qualify. I normally avoid mentions of human trafficking because it’s hard to think of anything worse. Thanks for sharing.
    Katherine recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 ResolutionsMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      *Blinks* Omg, you would love his novels Katherine..go look at his collection..all are standalone and honestly I haven’t read one I didn’t give 4 or more coffee cups.

  6. Candace

    I hadn’t heard of this one before, but it sounds good. It also sounds like it weaves in a realistic thing (human trafficking) to maybe help us open our eyes and realize what is happening out there. I know for me I know that it’s happening but it’s not something I have thought about much. It’s probably a subject I could learn more about. I’m curious to see what happens in this one!
    Candace recently posted…Review: Passenger by Alexandra BrackenMy Profile