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Not a Happy Family Bets On...

Not a Happy Family

August 2021

NOT A HAPPY FAMILY is the latest from perennial Bets On author Shari Lapena. The book opens with a family at Easter dinner. Fred and Sheila Merton and their adult children  --- Catherine, Dan and Jenna --- have gathered at the sizable home (yes, it could be called a mansion) where the siblings grew up. The setting is beautifully pulled together; it looks like an idyllic family meal being served by their longtime housekeeper, Irena.

What should be a festive holiday is completely upset by Fred’s pronouncement that he plans to sell the family home, one that Catherine wants desperately to inherit. This is not the only slight from Fred; recently he undermined Dan by selling the business that he was in line to inherit and run. Earlier in the evening, when Dan began to hint about asking for money, he was blown off before the request could be made. And Jenna has been chastised for her bohemian lifestyle. The following night, Fred and Sheila are brutally murdered.

I love when Shari drops in certain details that make readers question what they think about the crime --- and it is all perfectly plausible. Blame shifts among the siblings; Irena; Fred’s sister, who had been told she was getting half of his fortune; and some unexpected characters who also have reason to stake claim. There are two detectives on the scene, and they are continually stumped as to what is going on. Each time they make some progress, they are sent in another direction.

Typically Shari’s books are one-sit reads for me, meaning that I start reading and do not stop until I am finished. Her plotting is brilliant. No matter how long I have been reading her books, there are always moments when her artful laying down of the clues slays me. Wait, what just happened there? Whoa! It’s one of the reasons that I read her books so quickly; I am compelled to try to see what comes next. This one did wrap a bit too quickly for me. But it’s still a Bets On for the way it completely captured my attention.

Not a Happy Family
by Shari Lapena