Book Review Mystery

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena – Book Review

Not A Happy Family got me intrigued from the get go. Written by a Canadian author living in Toronto, this book sounded like it was inspired by the unsolved murder of Toronto millionaires Barry and Honey Sherman. I am not actually a hundred percent certain if this book is based on that true crime, but the similarities are uncanny.

A page-turner, mystery/thriller with dysfunctional family dynamics, that will for sure keep you on the edge of your seat. This was certainly an enjoyable read and it checks off everything that I want in a murder mystery. Read more below for the summary and my final thoughts.

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Number of Pages: 349

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Crime


Shari Lapena, author of Not A Happy Family


Not A Happy Family is about The Mertons, a wealthy family living in upstate New York. The night after a dreadful Easter dinner, Fred and Sheila Merton were found gruesomely murdered in their home. This dinner was attended by their three adult children, Dan, Catherine and Jenna, and now all fingers are pointed at them. Each of them stand to inherit millions, each have their motives. A dysfunctional family with a contentious father and neglectful mother, perhaps one of the children just had enough that night? 

my thoughts

This book did not disappoint! My initial thought is that it’s pretty similar to the movie Knives Out which I absolutely enjoyed. This is a classic whodunnit where every character has motive for the murder, and it definitely kept me guessing until the very end.

The story was engaging and the chapters are very short which left me on the edge and made me feel compelled to read more. Just when you thought that you’ve figured out who the murderer is, some new crucial development happens and it makes you want to reconsider your verdict. The author did an excellent job in implicating each of the characters, such that each of them look equally guilty and suspicious. 

The characters are what you would expect in a rich family who stands to inherit millions – they are greedy, selfish and spoiled. The Merton siblings and Audrey, the vindictive aunt, are all persons of interest in the investigation. They all try to put up a united front for investigators and pretend to care and mourn for Sheila and Fred, but in reality each of them are suspecting each other and only caring about the inheritance. Everyone in the family is keeping secrets and is riddled with lies and fake alibis. 

Overall I really enjoyed reading this. It’s fast-paced with short chapters and multiple points of view. It’s a classic murder mystery but still kept me intrigued and guessing up until the end.

my rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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