Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena #AudioBookReview

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In this family, everyone is keeping secrets. Even the dead.

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

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Not A Happy Family was a great choice for an audiobook and I really enjoyed the narration by Ellen Archer. I only read one of the author’s novels before (An Unwanted Guest) but when I came across this one I couldn’t resist this new murder mystery.

Fred and Sheila Merton invited their three children Dan, Catherine and Jenna and their partners, as well as their cleaning lady-more family friend- Irena over for a Sunday Easter dinner where they drop quite a few unexpected bombs at the dinner table. The guests are all more than happy to leave but the next day Fred and Sheila are found murdered in the house and their children are rich. Dan – who didn’t take over the family business – now had money problems, Catherine – the perfect daughter – always dreamed of living in her parent’s house and Jenna – the struggling artist – saw the support of her parents also coming to an end. They all left but who returned later that night?

It took me some time to really get into the story, mostly because with the three siblings there were ‘only’ three suspects so I thought I’d find it quite easy to point out the killer. I was very wrong about that, even at 90% I had absolutely no clue who did it.

I’m usually great at guessing the identity and I sometimes even know quite soon who is hiding something but they ALL have things to hide this time so that didn’t give me any clue. In the beginning I still thought I was clever by thinking of who was present but not given too much attention, but then the author drew in more side characters into the plot, like Fred’s sister and a woman named Rose and you could almost say that they become the prime suspects.

Almost every single character introduced into the story is a likely suspect in the end and there are more people with a motive than expected. I kept guessing and guessing which was so much fun to do. There are so many secrets and lies going around in an effort to simply not seem like they’re the killer, they lie to their spouses, they ask their spouses to lie for them, the siblings even start to point fingers at each other.

It was impossible to guess the identity of the killer so this is one of the rare books able to surprise me. I do wonder if the author knew herself who did it from the beginning or if she left all options open until the end and then made the decision. I’m suspecting the latter as it could have been anyone else and it would have the same effect! The whodunnit wasn’t the only thing that surprised me in the end though, the final chapters in the form of an epilogue gave the story an extra twist and concluded the story on a real high.

I received a free ecopy from the publisher Penguin Random House via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion. 

24 thoughts on “Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena #AudioBookReview

    • I’m slowly starting to enjoy audiobooks more. I think some genres work better too but I’m still examining that. I’ve taken a habit of listening for an hour during work at home each day (don’t tell anyone) – hearing someone’s voice other than my own is actually quite welcome some days – and I thought I couldn’t actually multitask but it turns out some tasks can be done while listening. An hour is my limit though, then I’ve concentrated enough on doing two things. I think I’m actually going to miss it when I go back to the office. Thank you!

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      • Yes, you are probably right about some genres working better than others. Although, I only read paper books, when I really have to concentrate, because it’s technical nonfiction or very difficult language (such as Virginia Woolf). I’ve started to go back in the office, but we are still only at max 50% capacity. Even if I’ve enjoyed working from home, it’s so nice to see my colleagues again. I always listen to audiobooks whilst doing other things at the same time such as housework, shopping, etc. (haven’t tried it whilst working though). If you are just sitting on your couch, you may as well read a book.

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      • We all have to go back to the office full time as from next week but I already went one day per week since January. I had difficulties keeping my attention when doing housework, I often found myself missing sentences. I try to listen in the train too but often there are people talking to each other, answering calls or there’s that voice over the intercom announcing next stations. Like reading I like my surroundings to be silent. The types of novels I enjoy don’t require a lot of taking in and processing, but I do need to keep myself from being distracted. We’ll see how it goes in the future but I have a good feeling I’m not going to stop listening.

        Liked by 1 person

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