An Unwanted Guest
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"An Unwanted Guest" Characters Analysis

By Shari Lapena

mystery | 290 pages | Published in NaN

A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting awayIt's winter in the Catskills and Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead--it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm--and one another.


Estimated read time: 8 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

In the thrilling novel "An Unwanted Guest" by Shari Lapena, a group of strangers find themselves trapped in a remote hotel during a snowstorm. As the tension rises and the body count increases, the characters' true natures are revealed. This character analysis will delve into the key players of the story, their roles, descriptions, traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships.

List of Characters

David PaleyHotel owner
Dana HartAspiring writer
Matthew HutchinsonLawyer
Gwen DelaneyActress
Riley ShuterWall Street trader
Lauren DayER doctor
Candice WhiteWedding planner
Beverly SullivanFormer math teacher
Ian BeetonEngineer

Role Identification

  1. David Paley: The hotel owner who is responsible for the well-being of his guests.
  2. Dana Hart: An aspiring writer seeking inspiration for her next novel.
  3. Matthew Hutchinson: A lawyer who is attending the hotel for a romantic weekend with his girlfriend.
  4. Gwen Delaney: An actress looking for a quiet getaway from the pressures of Hollywood.
  5. Riley Shuter: A Wall Street trader who enjoys luxurious vacations.
  6. Lauren Day: An ER doctor on a weekend trip with her husband.
  7. Candice White: A wedding planner who is celebrating her anniversary at the hotel.
  8. Beverly Sullivan: A retired math teacher who enjoys the tranquility of the mountains.
  9. Ian Beeton: An engineer who is fond of outdoor activities.

Character Descriptions

  1. David Paley: David is a middle-aged man with a welcoming smile and a professional demeanor. He takes pride in his hotel and wants his guests to have a memorable experience.
  2. Dana Hart: Dana is a young woman in her late twenties, with a creative spark in her eyes. She is observant and always carries a notebook, ready to jot down any interesting ideas or observations.
  3. Matthew Hutchinson: Matthew is a well-dressed man in his early thirties, exuding confidence and intelligence. He has an air of authority and is known for his persuasive arguments.
  4. Gwen Delaney: Gwen is a stunning woman in her forties, with a captivating presence. She has a commanding voice and a mysterious aura that makes people curious about her past.
  5. Riley Shuter: Riley is a charming man in his late twenties, always dressed impeccably in expensive suits. He is charismatic and knows how to make a good impression.
  6. Lauren Day: Lauren is a petite woman in her thirties, with a calm and composed demeanor. She has a caring nature and is always ready to lend a helping hand.
  7. Candice White: Candice is an energetic and bubbly woman in her early forties. She is well-organized and has a knack for turning any event into a memorable experience.
  8. Beverly Sullivan: Beverly is an elderly woman in her seventies, with a kind face and gentle eyes. She exudes wisdom and has a calming presence.
  9. Ian Beeton: Ian is a tall and athletic man in his early forties, with a strong physique. He is adventurous and enjoys challenging outdoor activities.

Character Traits

  1. David Paley: Professional, hospitable, meticulous, organized.
  2. Dana Hart: Observant, creative, introspective, persistent.
  3. Matthew Hutchinson: Intelligent, persuasive, confident, logical.
  4. Gwen Delaney: Mysterious, captivating, enigmatic, independent.
  5. Riley Shuter: Charming, charismatic, suave, manipulative.
  6. Lauren Day: Caring, composed, empathetic, reliable.
  7. Candice White: Energetic, organized, enthusiastic, detail-oriented.
  8. Beverly Sullivan: Wise, calm, gentle, patient.
  9. Ian Beeton: Adventurous, strong, determined, resourceful.

Character Background

  1. David Paley: David inherited the hotel from his parents and has been running it for the past fifteen years. He has always been passionate about providing a luxurious and comfortable experience for his guests.
  2. Dana Hart: Dana grew up in a small town and always dreamed of becoming a successful writer. She recently quit her job to focus on her writing career and hopes to find inspiration for her next book at the hotel.
  3. Matthew Hutchinson: Matthew comes from a family of lawyers and has always excelled in his career. He is currently working on a high-profile case and sees the hotel getaway as an opportunity to unwind and spend quality time with his girlfriend.
  4. Gwen Delaney: Gwen has been in the entertainment industry for decades, gaining fame and recognition. However, she longs for privacy and a break from the spotlight, which leads her to the secluded hotel.
  5. Riley Shuter: Riley comes from a wealthy family and has made a fortune in the stock market. He often indulges in luxurious vacations as a way to escape his demanding career and enjoy the finer things in life.
  6. Lauren Day: Lauren has dedicated her life to saving others as an emergency room doctor. The hotel is a much-needed respite from the chaos of the hospital, allowing her to reconnect with her husband.
  7. Candice White: Candice has always had a passion for organizing events and making people happy on their special days. She sees the hotel anniversary celebration as a chance to relax and recharge.
  8. Beverly Sullivan: Beverly spent her entire career teaching math to high school students. Now retired, she seeks solace in the peacefulness of the hotel and the beauty of nature.
  9. Ian Beeton: Ian has always been fascinated by nature and loves exploring the outdoors. He sees the hotel as an ideal base for his outdoor adventures and a way to escape the monotony of his job.

Character Arcs

  1. David Paley: Throughout the book, David's role as the hotel owner becomes more challenging as the bodies start piling up. He must navigate the chaos and take charge to ensure the safety of his guests.
  2. Dana Hart: Dana's character arc revolves around her transformation from an aspiring writer seeking inspiration to a survivor who uses her keen observations to uncover the truth behind the murders.
  3. Matthew Hutchinson: Matthew's arc involves a shift from being the confident lawyer to someone who questions his own judgment and becomes increasingly paranoid as the situation in the hotel worsens.
  4. Gwen Delaney: Gwen's arc explores her journey from a mysterious and enigmatic actress to someone who opens up about her troubled past and realizes the importance of trust and connection.
  5. Riley Shuter: Riley's arc reveals his true manipulative nature as he uses his charm to manipulate others and protect his own interests, even at the expense of innocent lives.
  6. Lauren Day: Lauren's arc focuses on her transformation from a caring and composed doctor to someone who is pushed to her limits, facing life-or-death situations and making difficult choices.
  7. Candice White: Candice's character arc centers around her ability to stay optimistic and organized in the face of danger, using her event planning skills to help the group survive and stay united.
  8. Beverly Sullivan: Beverly's arc showcases her wisdom and patience as she becomes a source of comfort and guidance for the other characters, offering sage advice and helping them navigate the chaos.
  9. Ian Beeton: Ian's arc highlights his resourcefulness and determination as he uses his outdoor skills to help the group survive, overcoming physical challenges and demonstrating his leadership abilities.


David PaleyHosts the guests, forming professional relationships with each of them.
Dana HartDevelops a bond with Matthew Hutchinson as they work together to uncover the truth.
Matthew HutchinsonShares a romantic relationship with Dana Hart and forms alliances with other characters to protect themselves.
Gwen DelaneyForms a connection with David Paley and develops a friendship with Dana Hart.
Riley ShuterManipulates others to serve his own interests, forming temporary alliances when necessary.
Lauren DaySupports her husband and forms a bond with David Paley as they work together to maintain order.
Candice WhiteUses her organizational skills to help the group and builds friendships with other characters.
Beverly SullivanOffers wisdom and guidance to the other characters, forming a mentor-like relationship with Dana Hart.
Ian BeetonTakes charge in outdoor survival situations and develops strong friendships with other characters.

In "An Unwanted Guest" by Shari Lapena, each character plays a vital role in the unfolding mystery. Their unique traits, backgrounds, and relationships contribute to the suspense and keep readers engaged until the very end. As the characters' arcs intertwine, the true nature of each individual is revealed, making for a captivating and thrilling reading experience.