by Chris Bohjalian
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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.
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.
I would watch this movie! I think I would probably spend my whole time reading being mad at the little brother or whoever hired the girls though. Interesting review!
Oh you will have plenty to be mad at, and of course be concerned about.
This book sounds so good. Fantastic review! this is nothing I wouldn’t have even considered based on the cover (i am funny about covers). Now I really want to read it!
Ooo I hope you do Karen and I would love to hear your thoughts.
The Bibliophile Babe
This sounds really intriguing!
I love this author, whatever topic he chooses he does it well and pulls me right in.
Wow, that sounds really intriguing.
Sweet, I hope you pick it up Mary 🙂
I’ve never read this author but this particular book is highly anticipated. I love the way you make it sound. The “snot” of a brother sounds like someone I would actually like, and you have really piqued my interest with the comment about drawing lines in the sand.
I have never read a book I didn’t like by him, and each are as different as snowflakes!
Wow, okay Kim he is now on my list of new to me authors to try!
Oh my, I cannot believe you haven’t read any of his books..go, go pick one!
Chris Bohjalian is like the surprise sweet treat you serve last at your holiday dinner. He’s a great, suspenseful storyteller. Thanks for the post.
Even though this one tackles such an unpleasant subject, I am most curious about it. Glad to see it was such a winner for you. I really need to check this out from my library.
He handles it brilliantly and I loved that we get one of the girl’s perspectives Heidi
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!
Agreed, and he handled the topic brilliantly
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.
*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.
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:)
His books are wonderful…yes share with them.
Sarah's Book Shelves
Big fan of this book as well! Loved how he made what on the surface seem like a shallow premise be so thought provoking!
*happy dance* I agree, and the voices he chose to tell the story made it all the more powerful.
I must confess I had never heard about Bohjalian before. This book seems really interesting, full of mistery and twists just like I love. Thanks for sharing and have a Happy New Year!
Each of his books is different and all beautifully and masterfully written. I hope you browse his collection.
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…
Yes..so happy to hear this. I totally agree it was brilliant giving us one of the girl’s voices.
Glad you enjoyed it Kimba, but this is not for me, at all.
I understand Aurian.
The name does sound familiar
I love his books, and hope you try one.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this one or not, but your review is making me want to read it. Terrific review! 🙂
I hope you do, it was really well done, and honestly I couldn’t set it down
This one is exactly what I love to read. Am I sick? Some might think so. hehehe
Anna from elements of emaginette
LOL, no I wouldn’t want a steady diet, but appreciate reading well done books on current issues
This sounds like a compelling book. Based on your review, I could totally see this as a movie.
It was a tale that quickly grabs you Lekeisha.
This sounds fabulous and I need to read more mysteries. Thanks for putting this author on my radar Kim!
Thanks Ali, one of my favorite authors
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!
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.
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.
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.
I haven’t read Bohjalian in years, Kimberly, but you’ve just reminded me why I like his writing. Such a relevant topic and I like that he shows it affecting more than those involved, and through various POVs. Wonderful review of what sounds like a riveting story.
I try not to miss any of his releases, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
whoa, this would be a good wake up call if everyone read it. Human trafficking is a buried issue
It really is scary, and Bohjalian offered incredible insight into the problem.
Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)
Oh wow this seems to be packed with plenty of thrills and twists! I’m not sure about there being a lot of POVs, I normally get all confused with anything more than 3. (I know, BUT IT’S JUST SO HARD)
Lovely review, Kim <33
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.
It’s always so great to have a author like that, to discover such a story. I don’t think I knew about this author but I’ll try to find one of his books. Just hope we don’t have too mant POVs.
He is one of my favorites. I will buy his books without cover or blurb.
Whoa! This sounds like it would make a good movie! Awesome review, Kim!
Thanks Grace, I love this author’s voice.