Review: Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Not a Happy FamilyNot a Happy Family by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What could be better than a holiday dinner with family?

Yoga class, walking the dog, your favorite pair of leggings, reading, online shopping, taking your bra off after a long day at work, sitting by a crackling fireplace, trying a new beverage at Starbucks, getting your period, going to the dentist…okay, apparently there are a lot of things that are more enjoyable to holiday dinners with your family.

You know what I’m talking about. You know.

Maybe you have too much to drink. Maybe everybody has too much to drink. Comparisons between you and your siblings come up. Maybe even the dreaded political discussion and the next thing you know, you’re throwing on your favorite wool peacoat and storming out into the night in a huff of thinly-veiled rage.

I mean, I guess it depends on the family.

The family in this story, the Mertons, although wealthy, are not a happy family. Their holiday dinners get very messy indeed.

When the family comes together for this particular Easter dinner, things get especially uncomfortable.

The patriarch of the Merton family, Fred, seems to take great pleasure in making his three adult children, Catherine, Dan and Jenna, miserable. It’s like he is actively trying to make their lives more difficult.

The night ends fairly early, with everyone leaving a little disgruntled. Ahhh, dinners with family, am I right?

The following morning, when Irena, the family’s long-time domestic help returns to clean-up, she finds the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Merton. They’ve been murdered.

Now everyone in the family is a suspect. They all had a motive. Most of them had an opportunity. Who done it?

Going into Not a Happy Family, I will admit to being apprehensive. I’ve had a hit or miss relationship with Lapena, so had no clue how this one would be for me.

My favorite aspect was how the story was formatted.

The short, alternating chapters, made it an incredibly fast read and I was fully engaged. After each perspective, I was sure I had it all figured out.

Alternating between everyone, you get a full picture of what being a part of the Merton family was actually like. It wasn’t pretty.

All of the children were treated poorly by their father and the mother never seemed to stick up for them. She certainly didn’t put a stop to it.

Also, there’s a large inheritance involved, so that always adds a layer to the motive cake.

With this being said, there were other players involved, so don’t narrow your focus too much. You never know who could be out to get jerks like this.

From the very first chapter I was hooked into this story. Lapena wastes no time jumping into the nitty-gritty and it kept me guessing until the very end.

The audiobook was quite good. I definitely recommend that as a format to take this story in.

This is my favorite Lapena thus far and I am looking forward to reading more of her work!

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