Bright and Deadly Things by Lexie Elliott
Publication Date: February 14th 2023 by Berkley
Emily is still grieving the death of her husband, on her way to a reading retreat in the Alps at the Chalet des Anglais when she interrupts a break-in at her house. It seems nothing has been taken, however, her husband’s office has been disturbed. Could his past research have been the target? Emily continues onto the chalet with lots of questions.
At the chalet she’ll been meeting up with friends, but also colleagues of her departed husband. A very rustic location with no running water or electricity, it’s supposed to invigorate the mind, but tensions are high between the guests. Emily finds her things have been searched, most notably her dead husband’s old laptop and then a beautiful student with a controversial past goes missing. Then there’s the old clock that survived a previous fire that unsettles everyone. Was there a bit of a paranormal aspect to it? Not sure.
Bright and Deadly Things was an interesting, atmospheric mystery. Mostly told from Emily’s perspective you get the unease she feels and that builds as the story continues on. Emily suspects there’s something about her husband’s research at play but she’s not sure why it’s important or which of the guests could be responsible for her break-in and repeated attempts to access the computer. The missing student is whole other situation that I won’t spoil, but there are several potential suspects.
I enjoyed this story and was fully invested in the mystery. I like Emily a lot. There was an undercurrent of danger, and she didn’t know quite where it was coming from. She was very much the amateur detective searching for the truth, not knowing or being able to trust just about anyone staying at the chalet. There was also a bit of romance for Emily and I was completely on board for it.
It is interesting to note that the Chalet des Anglais is an actual reading retreat the author attended, located in the alpine mountains, used by Oxford University since 1891. It sounded like a beautiful spot, but I’d be a little spooked visiting there after reading this!
A remote back-to-basics mountaintop retreat in the French Alps turns deadly as an Oxford fellow finds herself in the crosshairs of her late husband’s dangerous secrets.
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.