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Her Father's Secret

Review

Her Father's Secret

Sara Blaedel is among the seemingly endless stream of mystery/thriller authors to come out of the Nordic region of Europe. She may not be a household name in the U.S., but --- to steal a bit from her latest novel's title --- she may not be a “secret” much longer.

When Ilka Jensen travels from her lifelong home in Denmark to the completely unfamiliar territory that is Racine, Wisconsin, she immediately pours through her father Paul's life after his sudden death. He owned and ran a funeral home, a business that is completely foreign to Ilka. She also begins uncovering cryptic notes that on the surface appear to be some type of blackmail threats to Paul's American wife from a woman named Maggie, who claims he was carrying on an affair with her husband.

"Blaedel lays on us not one but two blockbuster plot twists in the last chapter --- one that is so jaw-dropping that it literally produces the final line 'To be continued.'"

The funeral parlor is deep in arrears, and it seems that the blackmail, Paul's alleged gambling addiction and his poor business decisions are all somehow tied together. This results in the deep hole in which Ilka finds her father's life --- a hole from which she may never be able to dig out. Almost upon arrival, Ilka steps into a skirmish between her stepmother Mary Ann and Mary Ann’s daughters, Leslie and Amber, against men who are attempting to throw them out of their home. This escalates into shots being fired, and Ilka realizes she is way out of her league to assist in any positive way.

Ilka decides to focus on the funeral home, where the only two employees left behind are Artie, who had been with her father for 18 years, and a nun named Sister Eileen. Both are well-intentioned but ill-equipped to run the business on their own. When the three of them decide to take on one last funeral, they rapidly see how out of their element they are. All of this stress is causing Ilka to run off the rails. She is acting erratically, which has resulted in her operating illegally with the funeral preparations she has taken on and risked her health via an encounter with someone she met on Tinder that ended in a night of unprotected sex.

The relationship with her newly realized half-sisters shows some promise, especially when Ilka confesses that she had no desire to take on the funeral home that had been willed to her and would gladly give it over to Amber and Leslie. In an attempt to ease the financial burdens of the business, Ilka accepts a gift of over $20,000 in cash from Raymond Fletcher, an older gentleman who claims to have been a friend and business colleague of her father and is just looking to help out. Little does Ilka realize that Fletcher was the main reason for many of Paul's issues; he is not a kind, elderly benefactor, but a domineering individual who could have played a hand in her father's death.

Blaedel layers HER FATHER'S SECRET with so much backstory that readers’ heads will be spinning. In addition to blackmail, there is a history involving murder and a deadly car accident that left Mary Ann wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life and took the lives of the parents of another wealthy business colleague of Paul. There are other, more incestuous goings-on that are best left for readers to untangle on their own. All I will say is that Blaedel lays on us not one but two blockbuster plot twists in the last chapter --- one that is so jaw-dropping that it literally produces the final line “To be continued.” I, like all others who go down this road with Blaedel, will be eagerly awaiting the follow-up to see what could possibly happen next.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 8, 2019

Her Father's Secret
by Sara Blaedel

  • Publication Date: April 7, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538763249
  • ISBN-13: 9781538763247