A compulsive read that will keep you up at night needing to know whodunit!!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Keep your secrets. Tell your lies. The gripping new psychological thriller from the author of the bestselling The One Who Got Away.
An old castle …
For more than 150 years, a grand house known as Alden Castle has stood proudly in the hills above the historic town of Paso Robles, home to a family weighed down by secrets and debt.
A fresh body …
When, after much rancour, the castle is sold, billionaire developers move in, only to discover one skeleton after another, including a fresh corpse, rotting in the old family cemetery.
An unsolved mystery …
As three generations of the well-respected Alden-Stowe family come in for scrutiny, detectives will discover a twisted web of rivalries, alliances, deceit, and treachery. Set amidst the rolling hills of the California wine district, and featuring gold-digger wives, a frustrated housekeeper, a demented patriarch and forbidden love, police must decide: who has died? Who has survived? And who, amidst all this horror and betrayal, is the lucky one?
The Lucky One hooks you in straight away; a (new and burned) body is discovered in the family cemetery on the Alden-Stowe estate in Paso Robles and soon after, the remains of a missing boy, are found in the chimney of the family’s castle. Mack and his daughter Alexa are on the case; quickly interviewing the Alden-Stowe family but it is clear from the get-go that this is not going to be a straight-forward case: everyone is keeping secrets and one of them is a serial killer.
Overington authentically captures the dysfunctional dynamics of family life in her representation of the Alden-Stowe family (which, hopefully, are a lot more dysfunctional than the norm!): there’s the gold-digging wife (Jesalyn) of the patriarch’s son Jack whose death (falling from the roof of the castle) years prior to the story beginning is still very suspicious; the patriarch Owen Alden-Stowe who is suffering from dementia but adamant that he wants to be buried on the estate like all his predecessors; Owen’s daughter Fiona and her sons, Fletcher and Austin (for some reason Fletcher and Owen don’t get on at all); Eden is Jesalyn’s daughter (separated from her family and sent away to boarding school after her father’s death); and Penelope and her son Earl, hired caretakers of Owen and the grounds of the estate, respectively.
The book shifts character perspectives and has a unique structure that allows parts of the narrative to be told by different characters. I really liked this and found myself particularly drawn to Eden. Overington really nails her teenage protagonist’s perspective and I enjoyed entering into Eden’s world: her yearning for connection again with her extended family; her struggles to understand her mother Jesalyn (they are such different people); her crush on Earl and developing relationship with the boy she had played with on the estate as a child. The dialogue was so well done: my favourite scene was the dining room scene where you have multiple characters talking over a meal and Overington’s skill is such that even without the dialogue tags you know who is saying what as each character has a distinct way of speaking.
This book looks at the darker side of family life and of human nature; examining vices like greed, selfishness, pride, ruthlessness. There aren’t many “likeable” characters as such but I don’t think that’s what draws us to psychological thrillers like The Lucky One and The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. We want to see what’s below the surface; what makes people tick, what drives them, and sometimes drive and ambition are not always for the betterment of society – sometimes peoples’ sights are set only on the betterment of themselves. Everyone in the Alden-Stowe clan has a desire to secure the inheritance they will get when Owen passes away. Which one, though, will go to horrifying lengths to see his early demise? You’ll just have to read to find out!
Once I got to the last third of this book I could not put it down. Overington handles the pace so well – she has us going along bit by bit, we think we know what’s going on and then bam! She pulls the rug out from under us and everything we thought we knew is turned on its head. You won’t see the identity of the killer coming and the ending will leave you reeling!
This is a must read and one that you will want to discuss with all your friends. It would also be a great book club read.