Agatha Award Nominee for Best Contemporary Mystery Novel (2024)

The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski is a domestic thriller full of family drama, secrets, lies, and revenge.

This book is part of My Winter 2024 Reading List.

My Overview

As per family tradition, the Van Ness siblings have gathered at their secluded vineyard estate in upstate NY for a weekend-long birthday celebration. Twins Harper and Richard will be celebrating their 35th birthday, together with their younger brother Zach. They’ve each brought their partners, so the three couples are spending three days together at the family estate. This year is much different from those past, because it’s the first family gathering without their mother. She’s recently died, and has left the estate to her children.

The story opens with a news article detailing that multiple deaths occurred at the Van Ness estate over the weekend. As the story unfolds, we learn more about the three couples and their backstories. We also learn about the Van Ness children’s dysfunctional upbringing, and the secrets their mother held. Most important, we learn that there’s a mystery “party guest” hiding around the estate, leaving gifts and threatening notes for them throughout the weekend. The more the story advances, the more twisted the characters’ behaviors become.

What I loved about this story:

  • Multiple POVs (Harper, Lauren, Elle, mystery party guest)
  • Atmospheric setting (secluded estate, torrential rain, power outage)
  • News articles and blog entry advance the story
  • Untrustworthy characters

This is the kind of story where I didn’t know whether I should dislike a character or not, but I always wanted to know where it was all going. It’s a mysterious story with a riveting plot, that kept me engaged throughout. Although I guessed who the mystery party guest was, I enjoyed the storyline and remained intrigued by the motives. I was also interested in learning where the tangled web of lies and secrets was headed. Of course, I also needed to know who died. Overall, I found this to be an engaging story from beginning to end.

My Recommendation

This is my second book by this author, and I recommend it. I especially recommend the audiobook, which is nicely read by multiple narrators. This book reminded me of Daisy Darker, so if you enjoyed that one, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Another book I’ve enjoyed by this author is The Mother Next Door, which I also recommend.

Have you read any books by this author?