Review of Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller due out in August…

If you think your extended family is bad just read this to cheer you up.

Thank you to net galley and the publishers for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I am a huge Lisa Jewell fan right from her debut to her mid writing career switch to thrillers. So I was delighted to net this book off netgalley. This latest book is more a family drama with characters who act badly or weirdly or criminally than a straight out thriller though.

Even the blurb grabbed me:-

“In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. They’ve been dead for several days.
Who has been looking after the baby? “

I couldn’t resist – I had to know.

On the baby’s 25th birthday, she receives a letter bequeathing her a huge abandoned (or is it?) mansion in Chelsea worth millions. Baby aka Libby has lived a normal boring life, but this inheritance sets her off on a quest to find out the truth both for herself, and her dead /living family members. Along the way she pals up with a newspaper reporter (the truly likeable Miller) who had previously written about the tragedy of the dead bodies and the abandoned baby and is still consumed by the need to know what happened.

Like a few other reviewers I too struggled at first, not so much with getting into the story but to mind capture as it were, the different characters and the differing points of view but I kept on thinking about what was going on in that Cheyne Walk house while I was loading the dishwasher or walking the dog, and I was keen to get back to the story ASAP so it’s definitely gripping and compulsive reading. I read it fast over 3 days and truthfully, I think, if you stretched it out too long, you’d lose some fluency of plot. There are lot of layers, past, present and lacunae in the characters’ lives and memories, so you need to be on top of it all. This is a cleverly plotted, sophisticated read which takes some focussing.

There are definite warning signs early on that all is not well inside that Chelsea mansion in the 1990’s and the arrival of the title’s ‘family upstairs’ splits the existing familial cracks further apart until violence and corruption spew out.

I found the lead characters of Phin and Henry as teenage lads, totally fascinating, and how their dynamics create deadly drama.

The ending is unexpected and rattles the reader- Lisa Jewell has not provided a 100% comfortable ending and even lays the way open for a sequel.

So highly recommend as a summer read and one to buy on the way to or coming back from the airport.

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