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The Big Thrill Recommends: THE WEEKEND RETREAT by Tara Laskowski

Recommendation By K.L. Romo

Book Cover Image: The Weekend Retreat“A family tree of deceit and lies.”

That is what the powerful and wealthy Van Ness family cultivates in award-winning author Tara Laskowski’s newest thriller, THE WEEKEND RETREAT.

Disaster strikes at the 985-acre Van Ness winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The news outlets report that two members of the family are dead, but they don’t say who or why.

The three Van Ness children and their significant others gather at the estate to celebrate twins Richard and Harper’s 35th birthday. Zach—their younger brother—loves being back home, but Harper hates the estate and the memories it brings. Before their mother, Katrina’s, death months before, they gathered at the estate to play the bizarre games Katrina created for them. Harper especially hated being blindfolded and then let loose in the woods in a frantic race to get to their mother—she always lost. Harper was never good enough.

Richard’s wife, Elle, was close to Katrina and vowed to keep the memories alive by reenacting Katrina’s eccentric—sometimes dangerous—contests.

Elle is “desperate to please and anxious for control,” and Harper’s murderous thoughts “have been on an uptick lately.” And what about the others? Zach brings his fiancé, Lauren, to the estate. Harper’s husband Lucas is there, but doesn’t want to be. And an unknown person—The Party Guest—stalks the gathering until revealing themselves later.

Who lives and who dies is the ultimate question in this semi-locked-room thriller. Years-old secrets unravel while the group tries to survive. When someone leaves a gift box with a cut grapevine nestled inside, Katrina’s ominous warning—“a cut vine means a severed line”—takes on a sinister meaning.

Laskowski once again plunges readers into a dark, creepy environment where most things aren’t as they seem. She’s even included a playlist of songs to pair with the novel. Verdict: the creepiness level and the creation of intricate secrets were successfully met.



K. L. Romo
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