In one of the year’s most anticipated debut psychological thrillers, a family made infamous by a true crime documentary is found dead, leaving their surviving son to uncover the truth about their final days.
“They found the bodies on a Tuesday.” So begins this twisty and breathtaking novel that traces the fate of the Pine family, a thriller that will both leave you on the edge of your seat and move you to tears.
After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.
The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.
When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.
“You have two choices when you’re confronted with your every last fear: Give up or fight like hell.”
This book blew me away, it’s that simple. I could not put it down and it definitely helped me get motivated to read even more, I’d say it’s the perfect book for those of you in a reading slump. This is a debut novel but it is under a pseudonym, which leaves me SUPER curious to see who the author really is but regardless I will be picking up future titles because this was absolutely amazing.
The story revolves around a family made infamous by a Netflix true crime documentary following the eldest son’s arrest for the murder of his girlfriend when he was a teen. His family believes he’s innocent and want to do whatever they can to prove it, until they’re found dead under mysterious circumstances in Mexico leaving one son in jail and the other to try and figure out what happened to their family. I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail about any aspects of the plot because I think you’re better off knowing less since this is a myster/thriller and it will be more fun for you that way!
There are certainly a ton of layers to this story and many little spinning webs that just kept adding more and more mystery and suspense. It is told through alternating POVs and timelines and while I would normally find this to be confusing I never was lost and I could always tell what was going on. We go back and forth between the father, the mother, and the daughter’s POVs in the past before their deaths and we also have Matt’s POV in the current timeline as well as FBI Agent Sarah Keller’s. Everybody’s POV was interesting and important, I never dreaded getting to a certain chapter or POV which is always a plus. The focus of the story is both cases, the case of the mysterious death of the Pine family and the original case with their son, Danny, “supposedly” murdering his girlfriend. I thought it was super intriguing how the cases intermingled over the course of the book and two mysterious cases made things all the more thrilling.
There are so many little twists and turns it kept me guessing as well as sitting on the edge of seat the entire time. I thought the pacing was fantastic, very fast, and I didn’t find anything to be too predictable, including the big reveal at the end. The ending was fantastic, the reveal was really well done and I’m glad I wasn’t able to see it coming whatsoever! I also thought everything was wrapped up nicely at the end. Very suspenseful and well written, I could gush for days about this book.
I wouldn’t say this story is more character than plot driven, I’d actually say it’s a very equal balance of both. Which I love, I think it’s a recipe for the perfect book. The characters are all complex and develop well over the course of the book, I really cared about each character especially the POV characters. They all had a lot of unique personalities and I think overall my favorites were Maggie, the sister, and Agent Sarah Keller. Both complete badass women (though Maggie was a teen but still) who are strong, intelligent, and want to help people by investigating or solving problems/cases. There are also quite a few side characters and while we only see them every now and then I still feel like they could stand on their own, which was impressive because I love when we have side characters that actually feel like people too. There are also a few POC characters that are minor but one is black and another is Korean, there is also another minor character who has a disability from suffering brain damage in an accident.
What I Loved:
- Super fast paced, full of action and twists
- Twists weren’t predictable or over the top ridiculous
- The ending was mind blowing and wrapped up nicely
- Multiple POVs and timelines were well done and not confusing
- Overall story featuring two crimes/cases was really intriguing
- All characters were complex and had unique personalities, I enjoyed all of them
- Overall clever and well written
What I Didn’t Like:
- I’m serious when I say I couldn’t even nitpick at it, it’s fantastic
Overall I loved everything about this book it’s a fast paced, page turner filled to the brim with action and twists and it’s smart and well written. It’s easily going to be one of my all time favorites and I can’t recommend it enough especially for those of you looking for a new thriller to read or need something really engaging to get out of a slump. Read this book! Do it!
Trigger Warnings: Attempted Rape (On Page!), Sexual Assault, Cheating, Murder, Death, Child Death, Racism, Racist Comments, Attempted Suicide (On Page!), Drug Use, Alcohol Use, Mentions of Suicide, Mention of Pedophilia (minor but disturbing), & Mention of Sexual Abuse and Rape
**** Huge thank you to Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****