cover image The Weekend Retreat

The Weekend Retreat

Tara Laskowski. Graydon, $18.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-52-581145-6

The wealthy Van Ness family gathers at their extravagant Finger Lakes winery for a weekend celebration that devolves into simmering jealousies, betrayals, and violence in this clever thriller from Laskowski (The Mother Next Door). A breaking news report prologue establishes that “multiple people” have died at the Van Ness estate but withholds details about who has died or how. From there, Laskowski flashes back to the days leading up to the party, as Richard, a successful attorney, and his twin sister, Harper, who runs an online cosmetics company, prepare to celebrate their 35th birthday. Richard keeps his financial problems from his underappreciated wife, Elle, who’s become the family’s de facto event planner. Harper’s business is imploding due to a leaked video showing her verbally abusing her employees; meanwhile, her slimy husband Lucas’s tech company soars. Youngest brother (and black sheep) Zach has brought along his girlfriend, Lauren, a gossip blogger with a special focus on the lives of the wealthy. Laskowski shifts perspectives between the siblings, their partners, and a revenge-bent anonymous visitor referred to only as “The Party Guest.” She wrings plenty of suspense out of the narrative structure, and utilizes the family’s Gilded Age mansion, with its myriad secret passages, to build more. The result is a satisfying mash-up of Succession and Agatha Christie. Agent: Michelle Richter, Foreward Literary. (Dec.)