Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena. I got this book in large print from the library and, is it just me, or does reading a large print book go by way faster than a normal print? After a mere five reading sessions, I was done with this four hundred and twenty-two page thriller and it was one that I enjoyed a lot! Now, let’s get to it:
Sheila and Fred Merton are, for lack of better words, filthy rich. Fred made his fortune in robotics and they boast a sprawling estate and a net worth upwards of thirty million. Fred is proud of his life as a businessman but of his children… Not so much, and it all comes to light on a particularly awful Easter dinner when Catherine, Dan, and Jenna’s father screams his poison in a drunken rage. While his disappointment is nothing new, his extreme anger is a surprise but no one is ready for what happens next when Fred and Sheila are found murdered in their own home.
The bodies of the Merton parents are discovered by their long term nanny turned housekeeper and the police investigation begins immediately with the children as their prime suspects. First, we have the eldest sister named Catherine. She is a dermatologist and married to Ted, who both enjoy the finer things in life. Dan is the middle child who is married to Lisa and are currently in a desperate financial situation. Fred also happened to refuse and degrade him when he asked for a loan on Easter Sunday. And, finally, we have Jenna who is the baby of the family. She is a starving artist with a new fling every week, a violent streak, and is currently living off of a monthly allowance from her parents.
Any one of the Merton children could have committed the double murder but who? All of them have secrets to hide about the night of the murder and with their partners lying for them and siblings backing each other up, it sends the detectives on a wild goose chase with the possibility that the case could go cold. Each Merton child has a lot to lose and a fortune to gain from the wills of Sheila and Fred so whodoneit? Read Not A Happy Family to find out!
I have been pretty unimpressed with the books that I have read recently and Not A Happy Family kept me on my toes until the very last page. This was definitely a nice change of pace and, for once, I couldn’t figure out the grand reveal so I really liked it! Not A Happy Family was an unputdownable read with red herrings at every turn of the page, especially because the children weren’t the only players in the investigation. The housekeeper, aunt, and a family friend are all potential suspects too which added to the confusion and suspense of the case.
This book changed narrators either every chapter or paragraph between the children, their partners, or other suspects who all have a lot of money to gain from the murder of Fred and Sheila. I love this type of format and it added so much urgency because you couldn’t put each person’s puzzle pieces together consistently. Just when I thought that I knew who did it, I read another few paragraphs and my opinion would change drastically.
I can’t recommend Not A Happy Family enough if you are looking for a fast paced murder mystery and am awarding it with an eight out of ten stars. Although it wasn’t a groundbreaking story line, it had me hooked and happily reading for hours on end. If you like playing detective as much as I do, then you are going to love this book!
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah