Published February 2, 2016
Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.
Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.
My Review - 3 1/2
I have only missed out on one of Heather Gudenkauf's books so far, she has became a go to author for me when she releases a new book. This one didn't feel nor read like her others, there wasn't what I would say her style or voice that came through.
The prologue drew you in immediately, a brutal murder, you knew you were into a great start to a who dun-nit story. Jack gets a call that his Aunt was hurt badly and was in a coma. Jack and his wife Sarah of 20 years head back to his childhood home and small community, Penny Gate, Iowa. Sarah knows the family from the wedding but immediately feels something is off, secrets. The Aunt has a brutal death in the hospital in front of all the family and then begins an investigation into her murder.
All the family are questioned, fingers being pointed and for Sarah, secrets revealed making her second guess the life she built with Jack. Similarities into the death of his Aunt and his mother have everyone entangled into a family dysfunctional mess. Can you imagine planning a funeral while the family is being investigated, emotional turmoil. Jack had told Sarah his parents died from a car accident so to hear it was murder and now his aunts murder has similarities, who should she trust. She turns to her own instinct or is it morbid curiosity and becomes private detective which puts her in the fire pan also. All fingers point to the troubled sister of Jack, Amy and she called their childhood home, 'the house of horrors' which is occupied by cousins, so it is still within the family.
Sarah is an advice columnist and when she checks her email she gets a strange email and when the 3rd comes in she knows it has something to do with the murders. The first part of the book was good but there was just something off, it may have been the flow, execution not the best but I thought the 2nd half was better. I think Heather is good with layering her stories to make mysterious and in this case it was the continuous secrets revealed which for Sarah were lies. She considered catching the next plane back home. Even though I knew who the murderer wasn't, the families reactions to everything didn't make sense to me and I think it was the lack of really getting to know the characters.
This was a solid read, the ending was okay but you will still have so many questions and that is due to the lack of connection with the characters. The questions are not about the story but more.... how can a husband lie about the things he did, how can family live in a home where their loved one was murdered, why did the murderer do it and the additional bodies found, is that even possible?
Thanks to NetGalley for honouring me with the opportunity to review a favourite author.