Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Released: July 27th, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Emotional abuse
Shari Lapena’s latest novel, Not A Happy Family, is a mystery thriller and family drama all rolled into one. It instantly caught my attention as one of the options for BOTM, and I just couldn’t resist.
The Mercer family has always been well off – and they’ve always been full of tension, drama, and secrets. Their three children are set to inherit millions, assuming their parents don’t do something to forever alter that financial path.
Even the mere suggestion of that sounds like the recipe for a thriller novel. As we all know, something is about to happen to rock this already shaky boat.
“Maybe you should just tell them the truth.”
Right away, the twisted dynamics in Not A Happy Family pulled me in. It was a mess and one that I couldn’t look away from. In a way, the setup felt very familiar to Knives Out (and if you haven’t seen that movie, may I recommend giving it a go? It’s one of my favorites).
Family drama? Check. Extreme wealth? Check. Questionable family loyalty? Check. Inheritance worth killing for? Triple check. You can see where I’m going with this one! This is a messed-up family, and it won’t take you more than a page or two to figure that much out.
What takes longer is figuring out how it all relates to one another. This leads me to my next point – what I loved the most about this book is that it really did keep me guessing. Despite the apparent setup, it took me a while to figure out who the killer was.
On that note (no spoilers, I promise), the ending was very satisfying. It didn’t lay out the whole story for us but instead left certain parts of it open to our imagination. Yet it didn’t leave too much answered. It was the right balance, and I found myself appreciating the note it left off on.
The best part about Not A Happy Family is that each and every character had a motive. More than that, most of the characters were designed to be hated. So it’s hard to feel bad for them, even when it looks like things might get rough for them.
This was the first novel I’ve ever read written by Shari Lapena, and I am totally blown away. You better believe I’m adding her to my list of trusted thriller authors.