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The Mother-in-Law Bets On...

The Mother-in-Law

May 2019

If you have been reading this website and my Bets On selections for the last few years, you will know that I am a huge fan of Sally Hepworth, an Australian author who writes wonderful thrillers that revolve around home and family. In the first chapter of her latest, THE MOTHER-IN-LAW, we learn that Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, is dead. From there, we unpeel the layers of how she died, with the plot twisting this way and that, and lots of finger-pointing from the family.

When they first meet, Lucy is ready to impress Diana. She makes a few missteps but knows how much her boyfriend, Ollie, adores his mother and is determined that she will win Diana over. Diana is very much in charge and is tough to crack. Her work includes helping women who have arrived in Australia as refugees, and she toils tirelessly at helping them assimilate. She’s also stellar at entertaining and managing her home life. Lucy realizes that winning her over is going to be tougher than she planned. Tom, Ollie’s dad who made their family fortune, loves Lucy, but Diana remains cold.

Lucy cannot figure out what she is doing wrong. Even when Lucy and Ollie have children, Diana keeps her distance. Lucy remains mystified that Diana can be there for so many others, but keeps her arm up to her. Also on the scene is Ollie’s sister, Nettie, who is desperate to the point of obsession to have a child with her husband, Patrick. There is a lot of family money, and there are many hands looking for it.

Then Diana is found dead in what looks like a suicide. Her reason? She no longer wants to live with the cancer that is taking over her body. For a strong woman like Diana, this may ring true, except for one detail: an autopsy finds no cancer. What it does find is drugs in her system and suffocation. What happened to Diana? And oh, she changed her will shortly before her death. How does that play into things?

The story is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Lucy and Diana, except for one chapter from Nettie’s point of view. It’s a page turner that made me realize again how sharp of a writer Sally is. Read this one, and I am sure you will want to explore her previous books!

The Mother-in-Law
by Sally Hepworth