Book Review: Bright and Deadly Things

02.14.2023 | Berkley
Rating: 4/5 stars


The Chalet des Anglais should be the ideal locale for recently-widowed Oxford don Emily to begin cutting through the fog of her grief. With no electricity, running water, or access by car, the rustic chalet nestled at the foot of the verdant, snow-topped Alps should afford Emily both time and space to heal. Joining her will be a collection of friends from the university, as well as other fellows, graduates, and undergraduates.

Something feels off, though—heightening Emily’s existing grief-induced anxiety. Before even making it to the airport, she’s unnerved by a break-in at her home. Once at the chalet, tension amongst the guests is palpable. Her friends and colleagues are behaving oddly, and competition for a newly opened position has introduced a streak of meanness into the otherwise relaxing getaway. As hostilities grow, Emily begins to wonder if the chalet’s dark history has cast a shadow over the retreat. In the salon, a curious grandfather clock looms, the only piece of furniture to survive a deadly blaze a century ago. As its discordant bell begins to invade everyone’s dreams, someone very real has been searching through Emily’s things and attempting to hack into her computer.

When a student disappears, Emily realizes that she’d better separate friend from foe, and real from imagined—or the next disappearance may be her own.

If you’ve been following my reviews at all the last few years, you know I love a great isolated setting when I’m picking up a mystery/thriller read. Elliott transports readers to a rustic chalet in the Alps where transportation and interaction with locals is available only if you’re willing to walk to it. Mix that claustrophobic location with a group of friends and colleagues that have secrets to hide and you’ve got a formula for a great read! 

From the start of this story, the reader is introduced to Emily, our main character, whose current life is anything but perfect. Coming on the heels of losing her husband in a tragic accident, Emily has become paranoid she is being stalked following multiple burglary attempts. When she gets to the chalet she’s expecting some time to relax, but is thrown into a web of secrets and deceit that is bound to turn deadly. 

Elliott sets things up to slowly build in tension, while managing to keep the pacing moving forward at a medium rate. This isn’t a slow burn, but it’s also not an extremely fast-paced read. I loved the way small details were revealed to keep me guessing throughout my read of this book!

Highly recommend checking this one out for fans of locked room style mysteries!

A huge thank you to Berkley for my gifted copy!

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