Wednesday 22 February 2023

Book Review – The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

The Only Way Out is Death
By Varun Gwalani

Loved watching the Korean survival drama Squid Game? Eagerly awaiting Season 2? Read Varun Gwalani's latest murder mystery to tide you over until the new season!

From author Varun Gwalani comes a new escape room murder mystery. The Only Way Out is Death is a fast-paced suspense novel set in an empty hotel, where twelve people have to kill to survive.

Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel.

Each of them have three choices:

Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel,

Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free,

Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free.

The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge uneasy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive.

Beware of the mastermind of this death game, who is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Place your bets on who will survive, if you dare.

Grab a copy HERE!

Twelve people, all in positions of power, were at a convention when they were kidnapped. All twelve next woke up in an abandoned hotel, with devices strapped to their legs, and are given clear instructions: they are trapped, and there are only a few ways out. If someone simply walks out the door, the device on their leg will release a deadly virus out into the world, and they will be responsible. If someone kills another, the killer will be free to leave. And if someone commits suicide, everyone left alive can go.

Surrounded by both moral and impossible choices, all twelve must make their choices as to who they trust, and who they don’t. And who they choose to spend their time around could be the difference between life and death.

This book is told from the perspective of Kiriaki, a lawyer, who uses her knowledge and skills at both deducing the truth and convincing others of said truth, to her advantage. It doesn’t take long until the group starts finding people dead, and Kiriaki tends to take the lead in the investigations. Finding out who the murderer was is vital, and both learning the truth, and convincing the others, is no easy task. This isn’t just a murder mystery. There are several mysteries surrounding murders, but also, the mystery of who it was that kidnapped them, who is the mastermind in the whole plot, and who within the hotel can be trusted.

There is a reason behind every single one of the twelve being taken, although details of the sins they seemingly must atone for are hidden until danger and accusation force the truth out. My favourite parts of this book were the ‘trials’ as such, when a body has been found and everyone gathers together to try and work out the motives, the actions, and the killer. Kiriaki is incredibly clever, and it’s fascinating watching her narrow in on the truth.

The confusion and fear of such a strange situation comes across perfectly. No one quite knows what to do, or how to act. Some isolate themselves, some try to come up with ways to escape, whether that be by following the mastermind’s rules, or by becoming a killer, and some simply try to remain calm, and pretend nothing is happening. After all, if no one dies, they are still in a luxury hotel, and have the option to live together in peace. Friendships form and break apart, and everyone is on edge. One might go as far as to accuse a friend if it keeps them safe. Anything goes, and the unpredictability, and multiple plot twists, certainly keeps you reading. 

I loved Kiriaki as a character. She has done things in the past that she is not proud about, and she can’t deny that the situation scares her, but she tries to be friendly to everyone. Alliances and enemies form almost immediately, for some of the people know each other outside of the hotel, but Kiriaki stays relatively neutral throughout the entire book. She gets to know everyone a little, and I definitely formed my views on the characters based on what she thought of them. Her inner monologue is almost amusing at times, but it’s perfect for letting the reader know what exactly she thinks of each person, and how she comes to the conclusions she comes to.

If I had any problem with this book, it was that I definitely struggled to keep track of the characters. While some of them were easy to keep track of (I knew who Malik, Anders, Shraddha, and Gideon were the entire time, but they did all have very specific character traits that made them stand out), others blended together, until I wasn’t sure who was who, who had what backstory, and what their role was. But it would be difficult to keep up with such a large cast of characters anyway, even if there wasn’t so much necessary information about each character that had to be revealed and then stored until it was needed.

While I haven’t read many murder mysteries before, I have watched plenty of thrillers, and this book would make an excellent film. After reading this book, I almost feel like I’ve watched it as a film already, for even though I couldn’t keep up with the characters, I could definitely keep up with the story, and it was absolutely amazing. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.

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Mary Anne xxx