I love Shari Lapena's books so when I saw that her latest, "Not a Happy Family" was part of the August 2021 Book of the Month, I had to have it. I know August was a really long time ago but I didn't get around to reading this until late December. I am not great at reading my BOTM picks when I get them; I usually let them pile up until I want to pick up a physical book.

Anyways... Shari Lapena writes thriller novels and "Not a Happy Family" was just that. It was definitely more of a slow burn versus something really fast, twisty, and ever-changing. I don't think it got the best reviews so I went into it cautiously. Turns out, I loved it.

I think you have to be a specific type of thriller reader to enjoy this book; you have to appreciate good pacing and the psychological gymnastics of trying to figure out who is the criminal and what the reasoning behind their crimes are. 

Publisher's Summary

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets—even 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 Fred and Sheila Merton certainly 
are rich. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught 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 vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of the siblings is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you'd know.
Wouldn't you?

My Thoughts

As I said, I'm obsessed with this book. I read it pretty fast and was enthralled the entire time because it was a plot point that was held extremely close to the chest. You have this evil man with these crazy children and then the parents end up dead. It has to be one of the kids, right? But you really have no idea the entire time it's happening.

The criminal, the killer, it could be anyone. 

Then, you have the idea that well, it's not so bad that this horrible man is dead, right? It's like you're almost rooting for the killer which is really interesting as a reader. 

As I said before, the book is a little slow but I appreciated the pacing. Sometimes books move too fast and furious and you can't even keep up with everything that is happening. I thought the characters were really well developed and you saw them go through a lot... both together as a group and individually. 

I am someone who loves wealth and I love to watch the way rich people live, so this book was a delight in that sense. I was captivated by the wealth and status of this family and how it truly drives people mad. The family dynamics were also very interesting, it felt almost real, the way they interacted and loved/hated each other at the same time. 

This book honestly felt like I was watching a movie, one that I couldn't stop watching. It kept me on my toes, it kept me guessing and it had a lot of subplots that kept the story moving and kept you interested.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was the choppy POVs throughout the chapters. It wasn't like other books where each chapter was told through a different person's eyes rather than within each chapter, you had multiple people's perspectives. I don't know if I've ever read anything like that and it kept things interesting instead of confusing. There were also a lot of characters and you read through each of them instead of having one or two narrators. It made it more exciting because you really couldn't tell who was telling the actual truth versus their own truth.

The ending of this book was superb; the reveal/climax was really well down, though a bit gory. I loved every second. I don't know how people thought this book was boring -- I highly recommend if you need a new, easy to read but interesting crime novel. 


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