Cover Image: The Sanatorium

The Sanatorium

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Member Reviews

High in the Swiss Alps an abandoned sanitorium has been converted into a hotel – minimalistic, modern, luxurious, and isolated. Elin’s brother and his fiancée, Laure, who works at the hotel, plan to hold their engagement party there and, of course, Elin is expected to attend. When she arrives with her boyfriend, Elin immediately feels on edge and has a sense of dread. This feeling only intensifies when Laure disappears, there is massive storm approaching, and the guests are trapped in the hotel by an avalanche.

The Sanatorium is a creepy, atmospheric debut book by Sarah Pearse. The setting is quite interesting but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. Elin, in particular, seemed difficult to understand. There were times that her decisions simply didn’t make any sense, especially given that she is a trained police officer. And, truly, there really weren’t any characters that I found very likable. Elin’s boyfriend is probably the only one and he is a minor, rather vapid character.

The Sanatorium had a lot of promise and so does the author. Even though her debut felt a little flat to me, I would still like to give her next book a go.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.

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I kept expecting this one to get better and while the action picked up a little in the second half, I still did not enjoy it. Not a single one of the characters in The Sanatorium was likeable, and Elin’s boyfriend and brother were particularly cringe-y. The side plot with Elin and Isaac’s brother having died when they were kids was really unnecessary IMHO. Also, when the killer is revealed, it’s not someone you could have guessed or that was hinted at, which makes it less fun and thrilling. And then what was that epilogue? Is there a second killer? Will there be a sequel? Very confusing.

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This title hits all the notes that make a solid mystery. Creepy old building with a disturbing past; characters that are hiding deep secrets; and a detective that has her own demons!

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Sarah Pearse's The Sanatorium is a murder mystery set in Le Sommet, an isolated, remote and rather sinister five star hotel high up in the Swiss Alps.

English DS Elin Warner, meeting her estranged brother there, ends up investigating a series of murders after the hotel is cut off from Swiss police access by an avalanche.

The Sanatorium is worth reading as an atmospheric mystery with more than one intriguing and hard-to-guess puzzle for readers to solve.

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Once a sanatorium for patients with tuberculosis, Le Sommet is now a posh hotel in the Swiss Alps with soaring glass windows, minimalist interior and relics of its past, when patients were sent most likely to die. Beautiful, it’s also isolated — miles away from the nearest town and accessible only by helicopter or a winding mountain road.

It’s not exactly the perfect place for Elin Warren to reconnect with her brother, Isaac, and his fiancé, Laure. Elin is dealing with a multitude of stresses. She is on leave from her job as a police detective, her boyfriend Will who is accompanying her is pressuring for a commitment, the human resources director wants a commitment from her to return to work, and, worst of all, she believes Isaac may have killed her young brother years ago in one of his murderous rages.

“The Sanatorium” is Sarah Pearse’s first novel and it’s a whopper — though a slight warning: reading it while the snow is falling outside your window just adds to the mounting dread. As avalanches and snowstorms make it impossible for help to arrive at Le Sommet, Elin races to solve the crime as one by one people, including her former best friend and Isaac’s fiancée are being brutally dispatched wearing treatment masks from when the place was a sanitarium. It calls for all of Elin’s strength, as she remains unsure and unsettled about her past and her future.

The secrets at Le Sommet are complex and many. Elin wonders who she can trust among the secret rooms high up in the building, almost face-to-face with the mountain walls inside a deep tunnel where Elin discovers a body and is almost locked underground with the corpse. And there is her own relationship with Will, whom she loves but feels she is losing because of her own uncertainties. Will she be able, she wonders, to overcome her overwhelming doubts about herself and move forward, or will she become the next victim of a vicious killer?

Pearse, who describes herself as an avid reader, moved to Switzerland in her early 20s and fell in love with the charming Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana and the mountains around it both of which became the setting for her novel.

“I’m always struck by the drama of the mountains,” she said in a Zoom call from her home in South Devon where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

That interest — as well as reading about the sanatoriums that existed before effective treaments tuberculosis existed, and it was thought that the clean, crisp mountain air, would help — form the plot of her novel.

“I read books about that time and there were photos of half-naked kids in the snow because they thought that would help heal their lungs,” Pearse said. “I also wanted to write a book about family dynamics.”

Reese Witherspoon, who selected “The Sanatorium” as a Reese’s Book Club Pick describes it as “An eerie, atmospheric novel that had me completely on the edge of my seat.”

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Atmospheric psychological thriller. Between the stark sanatorium setting and the isolated Swiss Alps locale, this novel inspired a claustrophobic tension and general unease. I related to the main character and quite enjoyed the twists and turns as she struggled to uncover both the mysteries of the sanitorium's dark past and catch a ruthless killer. Promising debut here.

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In the beautiful Swiss Alps, a creepy, abandoned medical sanatorium has been converted into a luxury hotel. A severe snowstorm with a disastrous avalanche ensues. The guests are trapped and mutilated bodies start turning up. Wonderful atmosphere and a great set up for a locked room mystery, right? Unfortunately, the characters didn’t grab me and the execution of the story fell short. Also not sure what the ending meant. Not a bad book, just a bit disappointing.

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This creepy, gothic novel will grab you from page one when a man goes missing from the middle of a snowy parking lot. This fast-paced ride will have you guessing and then re-guessing what it's all about, including who the murderer is and what they want.

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The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is set at a high class resort on top of a Swiss mountain. With the arrival of an avalanche and people disappearing the scene is set for a classic whodunnit. Elin is visiting the hotel for her estranged brother’s engagement party. She’s also a detective. When bodies start piling up Elin investigates and unravels some secrets that someone wanted kept hidden. So much intrigue in this tale. Read and enjoy!

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I loved this psychological thriller- it is often intensely creepy with an excellent central mystery element and a deeply chilly feel to it.

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The Sanatorium is a fantastic, chilling thriller that is a definite must read!

I don’t know how I almost missed this one, but I'm glad I didn't. It's atmospheric--the weather is vividly described, and given how brutally cold and multiple feet of snow have been all the great outdoors has been offering, I definitely sink into the setting even more than usual.

The characterization in The Sanatorium is very well done--I was interested in all of them which is no small feat. And that ending?? If that doesn't call out for another/next book, what does?

Sarah Pearse is absolutely an author to watch and many thanks to Pamela Dorman Books for the opportunity to read it! I'm absolutely planning on building even more interest in this via online book discussion groups and virtual displays, etc.

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3.5 out of 5 stars. Thank you NetGalley for an ARC for this title. This was a good book, but I feel it did not live up to its hype. The main character, Elin, did not really connect with me. She was in her head so much and I would have preferred more action instead of her second guessing herself throughout the story.

The setting of the story was very intriguing and setting of the murders at the site of an old sanatorium is what made me want to read this book.

Th epilogue-is it setting up for a sequel? It didn't seem to make much sense to me.

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Listen, I really wanted to like this book. The setting sounded spooky (old TB hospital? Sign me up!) and the impending risk of avalanches (I love a locked door mystery!!) but wow did this fall flat. I read it in 2 days and honestly felt pretty disappointed the entire time.
❌ Nothing spooky actually happens. There was SO MUCH POTENTIAL for ghostly things to happen but no.
❌ The snow/risk of avalanche didn't feel real or like anyone was really interested in it. It was just an occasional mention.
❌ There were too many people at the hotel. It should have been a smaller group to keep the mystery tight, or actually introduce some of the other hotel patrons. We get that brief onetime mention of the older Italian parents and then they were never mentioned or seen again. Do the 40+ staff/patrons not care that there are murders happening? What are they doing this whole time?
❌ The main character is kind of dumb. Are there any well adjusted police detectives in the entire world? Why must they _all_ have trauma that they must Never Ever Talk About.
❌ It was really weird when they knew Margot was missing and where she might be that they were like "hm, no let's wait for the police" when they absolutely knew her life was in danger???
❌ It could be my Americanness talking, but if you _knew_ you were going into a situation that could be dangerous (looking for Margot who was kidnapped and in serious danger), why wouldn't you take a weapon of any sort? Go to the kitchens and find a knife, dummy. There is not a single gun at the hotel? Not even taking a proper flashlight, just your cellphone. That's dumb!!!!!
❌ Rape as a motive for murder is offensive and makes for a weak plot.

Honestly, the cover was the best part of the book 🤷

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The Sanatorium is an atmospheric thriller set in the Swiss Alps during an epic snowstorm. Elin is traveling with her boyfriend to see her brother and his new fiancee for their engagement party. Things have been strained between the 2 siblings, so Elin is feeling a little off. Previously used as a place for recovery for TB patients, the hotel has been completely redone. As the snow begins to set in, the brother's fiancee disappears, and a maid is found dead. Are they related? Is Laure dead too? As Elin begins to investigate, her detective instincts kick in, she slowly uncovers the truth.
A great read for winter!

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I was really excited when I read the blurb of this and it did not disappoint. Loved the setting/atmosphere of the story. It was creepy and suspenseful, just what I was looking for!

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Here’s the Reese Witherspoon book club pick of the month, The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. I knew I HAD to read this novel when I first read the synopsis. This is the kind of story I absolutely love, one in a snowy place where people can’t leave. It’s creepy and chilling and nail-biting. AND it takes place in a former sanitorium. What could be better?

Look here:

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . .

I loved this atmospheric story and know you will too.

This is out now!

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Elin Warner is a fragile, anxiety ridden police inspector on leave from her position after a situation had gone wrong leaving someone dead. She and her boyfriend, Will travel from their home in South Devon to a remote mountaintop 5 star hotel in Switzerland. This is no vacation, in fact Elin would have done anything to find a reason to avoid this trip. She was there to celebrate the engagement of her brother, Issac to Loure, who works at the hotel. Elin has another motive for coming - her brother Sam. Sam died in an accident when they were children, but she suspects that Issac had more to do with this accidental death than is known.

The hotel is more than a location, it is one of the lead characters. It is the sight of a sanitarium that was used to treat tuberculous prior to antibiotics The hotel is sterile and cold - nearly hostile. Glass boxes are hung throughout with the inhumane tools used in the sanatarium for treatments in them with placards explaining their use.

Loure goes missing on their first night. Issac pleads his sister for help. She tepidly engages her professional self, but she has no faith in herself or her skills. The body of a missing hotel architect is found buried in the snow on the slopes. Next is the body of a hotel housekeeper at the bottom of pool. They are isolated after an avalanche. No help or police can get to them. This leaves only Elin to unravel the mystery of who is the killer among them? Who is next? And as the body count rises, why?

Will Elin find her own self confidence and the power to take on a sophisticated killer? Can she mend her relationship with Issac, the only family she has left?

Sarah Pearse keeps the story moving and the reader engaged in this fast paced story of introspection and detection. Her ability to convey the feeling of both the natural landscape as well as the man made structure in which the events take place is key to the success of The Sanatarium.

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of The Sanatorium in exchange for my honest review.

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Set in the Swiss alps hotel guests are stranded due to nearby avalanches, people go missing and ultimately murder victims are discovered. Elin, a detective from the UK who’s currently on a leave of absence from her job tries to unravel the mystery before more are murdered. This creepy, atmospheric crime thriller was filled with twists and gruesome details but the protagonist would repeatedly do things like chase after the killer in heavy snow or deserted locations without telling anyone where she was going or bringing someone with her. It kind of felt like that commercial where they make fun of horror movies where they say they’ll hide in the shed full of chainsaws. I found myself repeatedly questioning her believability.

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I had really high hopes for this one, but it just did not deliver. The idea behind it should have just sold it to me. Who doesn't want to stay over in a renovated sanatorium? The author did a great job with setting that atmosphere for sure and was the best part of the book. The issue is that it was slow and too character focused to be a good murder mystery. The characters are also awful people that I could not connect with at all. Just some fixes to the character development would have made this book a lot better because it was right there.

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A page turner. I found this book delving into different relationships that were interesting. Then the mystery kicked into gear and people started turning up dead.

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