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Book Review: Puzzle House: A Novel by Duncan Ralston

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced reader’s copy of this book through NetGalley. It has been several years since I have been a reviewer there and have been hoping to renew that side passion of mine. Though my time is still limited with my publishing schedule, I do hope to add a book every once in a while. Please bear with me as I get my sea legs back with writing reviews.

That being said, Puzzle House: A Novel by Duncan Ralston was a nice welcome back. This was my first book by Ralston and hope to add several more into my TBR pile. You can preorder the book now on Amazon, but it will be released on September 15, 2023.

Now, to the good bits. Here’s the synopsis by the author:

Six strangers arrive at the home of preeminent puzzle master Alexei Vasiliev for the reading of his will. Among them are the deceased's widow, who'd already begun divorce proceedings, a virologist troubled by actions in his past, and a convicted murderer on day release. The potential beneficiaries will split Vasiliev's $150M fortune if they participate in his last great work.
The choice is simple: leave the house with nothing or continue in the hope of solving the six interconnecting escape rooms within this house.
Once there, the participants soon discover Puzzle House is far deadlier than it appears, and that making their way through the rooms may be a matter of life and death. Someone is watching their every move, toying with them, turning them against each other. With their lives on the line, they are forced to wonder, is it all just a deadly game created by a gleeful sadist, or something far more sinister?

As soon as the characters were in play within Puzzle House, I was immediately reminded of the 2001 remake Thir13een Ghosts starring Matthew Lillard and Tony Shalhoub. Though there are quite a few differences between the movie and this novel, the overall premise is the same: billionaire dies and passes his legacy on in his will, each of the rooms hold traps moving our characters through to one central location where the diabolical truth is revealed.

In Puzzle House, the six seemingly random strangers are thrown into one sadistic escape room after another as they compete to win the final prize – Vasiliev’s fortune. It doesn’t take them long to realize they were not selected at random, and there is a far more sinister plan in place.

Though I didn’t find anything unique or surprising within this novel, that does not discount the fun of reading this. It is a fast read and one I definitely recommend.

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