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Not a Happy Family

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In this family, everyone is keeping secrets--especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don't come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner w In this family, everyone is keeping secrets--especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don't come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated. Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you'd know. Wouldn't you?


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In this family, everyone is keeping secrets--especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don't come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner w In this family, everyone is keeping secrets--especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don't come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated. Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you'd know. Wouldn't you?

30 review for Not a Happy Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Hmmm I smell delicious, mind bending concept here: Knives out meets Succession! Welcome to the Merton Family mention located at Brecken Hill in upstate New York. Dear Fred and Sheila Merton have no idea this will be their last family dinner party with their lovely kids who hate the guts of them. That was an ordinary Easter dinner till their lovely father started talking about how much he got disappointed of his children and they suddenly left the dinner in anger including their more than 2 decad Hmmm I smell delicious, mind bending concept here: Knives out meets Succession! Welcome to the Merton Family mention located at Brecken Hill in upstate New York. Dear Fred and Sheila Merton have no idea this will be their last family dinner party with their lovely kids who hate the guts of them. That was an ordinary Easter dinner till their lovely father started talking about how much he got disappointed of his children and they suddenly left the dinner in anger including their more than 2 decades caretaker Irena who stood up for kids. Very Dysfunctional family: an oligarch, powerful father figure takes pleasure in tormenting his own kids to boost his own ego! Three kids who turned against each other, feeding with rivalry, anger, frustration. And finally one of them decided to take matters into his or her own hands: brutally killing parents before their father pull his last trick up his sleeve by changing his will and leaving half of his wealth to his sister a.k.a. their vindictive cutthroat bitch auntie dearest! Yes! Unfortunately knives are not out! Because the poor caretaker Irena already washed away the murder weapon, cleaning the traces of blood and fingertips of the murderer. She has good intentions. She literally raised those kids and she truly knows how they suffered from controlling monster a.k.a real psychopath father of the year with a big ugly secret. Yeah, their father was big bad wolf and their mother were mostly silent to his terrible actions against his children. She didn’t do anything to protect them and now that’s how she got paid for herself: being strangled to death! Three traumatized children: one of them or all may have inherited the genes of their father, suffering from same psychopathic tendencies to commit such a brutal crime! Poor Dan, is the mentally and emotionally weakest link of the trio. He reminds me of Successions’ Kendall a lot. His father targeted him from the beginning, abusing mentally and psychically, selling the company he’d worked hard for and left him penniless and unemployed. And his last unfortunate business investment left him high and dry. The father of the year rejects to borrow him money, humiliating him in front of everyone, pleasing to watch him squirming in pain. Being middle child and only boy must be toughest. He’s none of his parents’ favorite, left excluded and has every right to reflect years long boiled anger in different ways. Could he be the killer? Why not? Catherine is the oldest, hard working, conservative, conventional, a doctor. She’s in good terms with everyone, her mother’s favorite child. But as soon as her father plans to sell their childhood house, her peaceful demeanor is changed. Could she lie without blushing or showing any reaction to put her on radar? Absolutely not! She’s so cool as cucumber. So calculated. So focused. Could she be sociopath? Why not? And artsy, unconventional, rebellious, confident, attention seeker, youngest child Jenna is already blacklisted with her special sculptures about women genitalia. Her father plans to cut his financial support and he already expressed his intention in front of entire family. Could she do something violent? Well, she has an uncontrollable temper issue, doesn’t she? Both of the children are lying about their alibis. Both of them can return back to house at the time of murders and both of them have motives! And their vindictive, extremely irritating auntie Audrey knows their secret, already pissed off to be excluded from half share of the wealth, smelling blood, coming after them. She thinks one of them killed her brother. Is she right? But are those kids only the ones to inherit the will, or are there other people who could be suspect of this killings? Whodunnit? Can you guess? Which one of them is psychopath? What if the answer is all of them! I’m rounding up 3.5 stars to 4! It was fast paced, riveting, intriguing page turner with great whodunnit premise introducing us so many irritating characters! Even the police officers were annoying. Only likable character was Irena! Audrey was quiet punchable one was more disturbing than the kids! I highly recommend for the author’s great fans like me and action packed, exciting thriller readers! Special thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Viking/ Pamela Dorman Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange for my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Holly B

    4.5 STARS Lapena is still the Queen of Domestic Suspense! This one was quite a page-turner for me. I was frantically turning the pages to solve the Merton murders! Who dunnit? So many suspects, so little time. I need to know! The family is nervous, anxious, untrusting. I don't believe any of them! They are all liars, maybe psychopaths too. The police want to know if they had any enemies, if anyone saw anything, and who has a motive. Umm, everyone!! A murder mystery with suspects galore and the last li 4.5 STARS Lapena is still the Queen of Domestic Suspense! This one was quite a page-turner for me. I was frantically turning the pages to solve the Merton murders! Who dunnit? So many suspects, so little time. I need to know! The family is nervous, anxious, untrusting. I don't believe any of them! They are all liars, maybe psychopaths too. The police want to know if they had any enemies, if anyone saw anything, and who has a motive. Umm, everyone!! A murder mystery with suspects galore and the last line was a huge high five!! Clap! Library Loan / Read August 5, 2021

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael David

    Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick? Was it Ms. Scarlett in the lavatory with a piece of rope? Was it one of the Mercer children in the living room and kitchen with a wire and knife? Or was it someone else? Whoever it was, they sure didn’t like Fred and Sheila Mercer. Shortly after a tense Easter dinner at Fred and Sheila’s, the couple are found murdered. Who would do that to them? They have three children. All of them were at Easter dinner. Two of them were with their spouses. O Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick? Was it Ms. Scarlett in the lavatory with a piece of rope? Was it one of the Mercer children in the living room and kitchen with a wire and knife? Or was it someone else? Whoever it was, they sure didn’t like Fred and Sheila Mercer. Shortly after a tense Easter dinner at Fred and Sheila’s, the couple are found murdered. Who would do that to them? They have three children. All of them were at Easter dinner. Two of them were with their spouses. One was with a random “boyfriend”. The former nanny and current cleaning lady was there too. One guest couldn’t make it. All of the guests, as well as those who weren’t at the dinner, have a motive. This is a smoothly written and unputdownable domestic suspense novel, and I absolutely loved it! The chapters are short and sweet, making it easy to pause if you need to...but propelling you to continue. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is unlikable...and in this case, it’s welcomed. Everyone has a secret...and each character has bombshells revealed sporadically throughout. The ending is wickedly delicious. I’ve read all of Shari Lapena’s suspense novels (except her last one, which I plan to make right soon), and I have loved all of them. If you enjoy books with: shite people who are fun to read about, multiple suspects, and multiple motives...READ THIS! Now available from Pamela Dorman Books. I thank my local library for providing me with a copy through the drive-up window. 🤣 Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com

  4. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena (Author), Ellen Archer (Narrator) Usually I don't enjoy stories made up of a big group of selfish, greedy, rotten liars. That's the Merton family for you and now the Merton parents are dead and the lies and accusations are flying among the grown children. This is a sick, dysfunctional trio that doesn't want to lose the dysfunction but does want to grab all the wealth of their dead parents. All three kids have motive to kill their parents but would any of them be Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena (Author), Ellen Archer (Narrator) Usually I don't enjoy stories made up of a big group of selfish, greedy, rotten liars. That's the Merton family for you and now the Merton parents are dead and the lies and accusations are flying among the grown children. This is a sick, dysfunctional trio that doesn't want to lose the dysfunction but does want to grab all the wealth of their dead parents. All three kids have motive to kill their parents but would any of them be so heartless to commit these brutal murders? The chapters are quick, jumping from one POV to another, and I liked the narration of the audiobook. It's just good, dirty, murderous fun, with no one to care about because no one is worth caring about. What a family of slime balls, they better all watch their backs and they probably know it. My favorite person was the lead detective, on the case, who could spot a liar from a mile off. But knowing someone is lying doesn't solve a case and this case is so tangled in lies that it might never get untangled. Published July 27th 2021 by Penguin Audio

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

    Ok, so I definitely predicted who the killer was, but I still had so much FUN reading this one! This is a thriller about these rich parents who have their kids over for Easter, but these parents are kind of assholes to their kids and they put all kind of ridiculous expectations on them, and on the morning after Easter, the parents are found brutally murdered in their home. The only suspects are the three adult siblings who all will gain a big inheritance from their deaths, and who argued with th Ok, so I definitely predicted who the killer was, but I still had so much FUN reading this one! This is a thriller about these rich parents who have their kids over for Easter, but these parents are kind of assholes to their kids and they put all kind of ridiculous expectations on them, and on the morning after Easter, the parents are found brutally murdered in their home. The only suspects are the three adult siblings who all will gain a big inheritance from their deaths, and who argued with their parents the night before. This is a QUICK read, I flew through the pages because I had to know who did it and what really happened. Even though I was able to predict who did it, I think it was a very entertaining read and one of Shari Lapena’s best! It had the same vibe as Knives Out in a way, but not as complex.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    Who would want to kill Fred and Sheila Morton? Or, should I ask-who wouldn’t want to kill them?? The family has gathered for the annual Easter dinner, hosted by Fred and Sheila, and patriarch Fred has an announcement to make. One that his grown children are not going to like. Eldest daughter Catherine and her husband, leave in a huff, followed closely behind by beleaguered middle child, Dan and his wife, Lisa. Even the former nanny/now part time housekeeper Irena is angry! Shortly after, their y Who would want to kill Fred and Sheila Morton? Or, should I ask-who wouldn’t want to kill them?? The family has gathered for the annual Easter dinner, hosted by Fred and Sheila, and patriarch Fred has an announcement to make. One that his grown children are not going to like. Eldest daughter Catherine and her husband, leave in a huff, followed closely behind by beleaguered middle child, Dan and his wife, Lisa. Even the former nanny/now part time housekeeper Irena is angry! Shortly after, their youngest daughter, Jenna and her current boy toy Jake say their goodbyes. The following morning, when Irena returns to clean up, she finds the bodies, and it’s apparent that the murders of Fred and Sheila were brutal. So brutal, that it looks personal to detectives Reyes and Barr. All of the children were in line to inherit millions of dollars. But, would any of them kill their parents to hurry the process along? There are a few others who had a stake in the early demise of the Mertons, giving us plenty of suspects to choose from, and what was really unique was that almost ALL of them were women! But, could a woman be this ruthless? The killer will not be the only cold-blooded character that you will encounter. Many of the suspects are unlikable, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Short, snappy chapters kept this moving along at a brisk pace! You never knew when another revelation might be dropped in a casual conversation so it was important to pay attention to ALL of the secrets and lies being exposed! And, although I rarely like epilogues-this one put a smile on my face! 😉 A buddy read with Susan! Be sure to check out her amazing review! I have now read all six of Shari Lapena’s novels, and have found them all to be entertaining! If you enjoy domestic suspense and haven’t yet read this author-it’s time to change that! Thank You to the Chandler Public Library for the loan!

  7. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    4.5 stars The not-so-happy-family here are the Mertons. Fred was a total jerk to everyone, but mostly to his children. Sheila, his wife, is a cold and distant mother, and failed to protect the children from their father. They gather together for the Easter dinner from hell, where Fred makes an announcement that has all the children leaving hurriedly, angry and upset. Even Irena, the housekeeper who had been the children’s nanny, leaves. Audrey, Fred’s sister, missed the dinner, but she has a compl 4.5 stars The not-so-happy-family here are the Mertons. Fred was a total jerk to everyone, but mostly to his children. Sheila, his wife, is a cold and distant mother, and failed to protect the children from their father. They gather together for the Easter dinner from hell, where Fred makes an announcement that has all the children leaving hurriedly, angry and upset. Even Irena, the housekeeper who had been the children’s nanny, leaves. Audrey, Fred’s sister, missed the dinner, but she has a complicated history with her brother, and was my favorite character. Her loathing of the Merton children was visceral. When Irena returns in the morning to clean, she finds a brutal murder scene, with both Fred and Sheila dead. There's no shortage of suspects among the children, and rarely has there been a more detestable group. All had a motive, and all have secrets. But they aren't the only ones. There's plenty of suspicion to go around. It’s been said there are four motives for murder: Lust, Love, Loathing, or Loot. There’s no shortage of the latter two here. There are no tears shed for Fred and Sheila, but plenty of anticipation and elation at the thought of the inheritance. I loved how the author dropped little secrets/bombshells throughout the book about the characters, that made me see each of them with new eyes. The police have plenty of suspects, but few clues. This isn’t a new premise, but I loved how this story unraveled, including a few surprising twists and a surprise ending. I think this would make a terrific movie! *I prefer listening to this genre and the audiobook was narrated by Ellen Archer, who did an excellent job.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Pass the Buck! Someone did a bad thing. But who? Or was it a group effort? You would think people on the edge of a financial windfall would be deliriously happy, or at least grateful in their security, but not these family members. A well developed cast of characters were delightfully malcontent and rotten to the core which meant that I was on board with any one of them being held culpable for the misdeeds happening here. The family theme was ‘More is More’ with the knowledge that a conviction wou Pass the Buck! Someone did a bad thing. But who? Or was it a group effort? You would think people on the edge of a financial windfall would be deliriously happy, or at least grateful in their security, but not these family members. A well developed cast of characters were delightfully malcontent and rotten to the core which meant that I was on board with any one of them being held culpable for the misdeeds happening here. The family theme was ‘More is More’ with the knowledge that a conviction would create a greater monetary share for the others with the portion being forfeited. Casting doubt became an occupation as they folded in on each other. I loved this! It was a joyous shell game as I suspected each individual countless times while new information was revealed and lies exposed. The process encompassed the entire book and with the author’s minimalist writing style, it was a quick and easy read which really appealed to me. So who was it? I’m not telling. What I can say is that the only person happy was probably me. Thank you to my local library for the loan. Another thank you to Jayme for reading and discussing this with me as we were lucky with favorable timing for a buddy read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Count me in as a fan!! This is my third novel by Shari Lapena and I really enjoy her writing style. Her books are all quick reads and are rivetting! Although the ending of The End of Her really pissed me off, I still enjoyed it. Not a Happy Family is a dysfunctional family whodunit mystery. I'm really digging these plots right now. No, this story isn't very original and reminds me of the movie "Knives Out", but I'm still entertained from start to finish. "Maybe you should just tell them the trut Count me in as a fan!! This is my third novel by Shari Lapena and I really enjoy her writing style. Her books are all quick reads and are rivetting! Although the ending of The End of Her really pissed me off, I still enjoyed it. Not a Happy Family is a dysfunctional family whodunit mystery. I'm really digging these plots right now. No, this story isn't very original and reminds me of the movie "Knives Out", but I'm still entertained from start to finish. "Maybe you should just tell them the truth." Truth is.... everyone here lies. I couldn't figure out who killed Fred and Sheila Merton after Easter dinner. The Mertons are dead inside their home and their bodies were found the next day by the housekeeper. All three adult children are interested in the big inheritance so they sure have the motive and are being untruthful. They also don't trust one another which adds another layer of suspense. Needless to say, when the killer's revealed, I was not too happy and my first response was "really??". But the epilogue is pretty damn sweet!! 😁😉

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I can't tell if this is a me problem and I'm burned out, or if it's a book problem, so no rating. Early reviews are loving this and I've enjoyed the author in the past, but I was bored to tears. I can't tell if this is a me problem and I'm burned out, or if it's a book problem, so no rating. Early reviews are loving this and I've enjoyed the author in the past, but I was bored to tears.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Woodward

    Short list of things that are solid: 1. Wood. 2. Steel girders. 3. An entertaining domestic suspense 'whodunit' from Shari Lapena! She does it again...almost. On the upside? Lapena always keeps her character list short, which I honestly appreciate. Too many thrillers and suspense novels get cluttered with a bunch of people who either don't matter, aren't interesting, or seem to exist only to serve as potential suspects. This tightly-knit family provided just enough options without a bunch of filler. T Short list of things that are solid: 1. Wood. 2. Steel girders. 3. An entertaining domestic suspense 'whodunit' from Shari Lapena! She does it again...almost. On the upside? Lapena always keeps her character list short, which I honestly appreciate. Too many thrillers and suspense novels get cluttered with a bunch of people who either don't matter, aren't interesting, or seem to exist only to serve as potential suspects. This tightly-knit family provided just enough options without a bunch of filler. The downside? Since there are only so many characters to choose from...I felt I could eliminate the 'obvious' suspects at about 60-70%. I had a very interesting ending in mind that I was hoping would somehow be accurate (and provide me with the crazy twisted ending I was looking for) but it didn't come to pass. I still had fun reading this one and will always pick up a Lapena novel knowing pretty much what to expect...although I'd be happy to be completely hoodwinked by her one of these days. This is another (mostly) zippy read and I'd certainly recommend it. And for the record, in case you were at all wondering...this is potentially the world's best title. There is NOTHING happy about this clan! 😉 4 ⭐

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Oooo boy this is one family tree in need of chopping down! 🪓 Two things that kept running through my mind while reading this: Liar, liar pants on fire (Yes, I am 46 years old) and you can't pick your family. I did enjoy this as I do most Lapena books but I will say that the reveal and the epilogue were disappointing to me. I guess I just wanted something a little more shocking. 3.5 stars! Thanks to Overdrive for my copy! Oooo boy this is one family tree in need of chopping down! 🪓 Two things that kept running through my mind while reading this: Liar, liar pants on fire (Yes, I am 46 years old) and you can't pick your family. I did enjoy this as I do most Lapena books but I will say that the reveal and the epilogue were disappointing to me. I guess I just wanted something a little more shocking. 3.5 stars! Thanks to Overdrive for my copy!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    No come on, own up, who killed Fred Merton. And who killed Sheila? Now that’s exactly what I was asking all through this book. It’s Easter Sunday. The scene is set. Who dunnit? Who murdered them? Everybody……everyone is a suspect in my mind. No one has solid reasons they are all as guilty as hell. Good thing I’m not in the Jury! This author is so good at weaving a tense plot that keeps the reader hanging in suspense. The verdict? It could have been anyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brandice

    Not a Happy Family is the second book I’ve read by Shari Lapena and I tore through this murder mystery! When millionaires Fred and Shelia Merton are murdered after having their 3 adult children over earlier that evening for a family Easter dinner, nobody is safe from being a suspect. The Mertons had Tension with a capital T and everyone could have a motive — 3 heirs, a nosy aunt, a longtime housekeeper, and tons of deceit across this unhappy family. I suspected everyone at one point or another a Not a Happy Family is the second book I’ve read by Shari Lapena and I tore through this murder mystery! When millionaires Fred and Shelia Merton are murdered after having their 3 adult children over earlier that evening for a family Easter dinner, nobody is safe from being a suspect. The Mertons had Tension with a capital T and everyone could have a motive — 3 heirs, a nosy aunt, a longtime housekeeper, and tons of deceit across this unhappy family. I suspected everyone at one point or another and couldn’t get enough of this classic yet modern “rich people behaving badly” story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jayne

    Not as HAPPY as I usually am after finishing a Shari Lapena book. NOT A HAPPY FAMILY is a "whodunnit" that missed the mark for me. The Mertons, a wealthy couple from upstate New York, are brutally murdered in their palatial home after hosting a contentious family Easter dinner. WHO KILLED THE MERTONS AND WHY? Was it one of the couple's unlikeable adult children? All of the adult children would have inherited millions from their parent's death. Or was it the housekeeper/nanny, a friend/colleague... Not as HAPPY as I usually am after finishing a Shari Lapena book. NOT A HAPPY FAMILY is a "whodunnit" that missed the mark for me. The Mertons, a wealthy couple from upstate New York, are brutally murdered in their palatial home after hosting a contentious family Easter dinner. WHO KILLED THE MERTONS AND WHY? Was it one of the couple's unlikeable adult children? All of the adult children would have inherited millions from their parent's death. Or was it the housekeeper/nanny, a friend/colleague......or someone else? The Merton family puts the word FUN in the word "dysfunctional"; making this "whodunnit" mystery challenging to solve. Each family member(including the deceased couple) was repugnant, loathsome, and distasteful in different ways. One or more members of the Merton family is possibly a psychopath. I listened to the audiobook and while listening to this book, I felt like I was on a merry-go-round. Instead of the story moving in a straight-line trajectory (with Lapina's signature twists), the book kept on going back-and-forth in circles, spotlighting the three adult children and possible other suspects. When the storyline was recircling, many times I felt that the text was repetitive and drawn out, like the author had a word count to meet. Fortunately, the book's ending was strong and this helped elevate this book's star rating. Since Shari Lapena is one of my favorite authors, perhaps my expectations were set too high. This being said, I will certainly be eagerly awaiting Shari Lapena's next book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    the plot twist wasnt that good, it was pretty predictable which sucks because i spent the entire book being so shocked by the twists and turns just to get to the end and be let down. i noticed in another book i read by this author that the plot twists at the end aren’t very twisty and in both books it was pretty obvious who it was and it was like the author was trying to throw you off on who it was, with both books. it just feels really repetitive. i’m also confused on why the person killed the the plot twist wasnt that good, it was pretty predictable which sucks because i spent the entire book being so shocked by the twists and turns just to get to the end and be let down. i noticed in another book i read by this author that the plot twists at the end aren’t very twisty and in both books it was pretty obvious who it was and it was like the author was trying to throw you off on who it was, with both books. it just feels really repetitive. i’m also confused on why the person killed the Shelia and Fred, like it was explained in the book it just wasn’t good enough imo.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada/Doubleday for this compelling domestic thriller by Shari Lapena. This character study and mystery had me riveted to the pages throughout, and I found it a tantalizing, twisted puzzle. The plot revolves around the gruesome murder of Fred and Sheila Merton, a multi-millionaire family in their mansion in an exclusive upstate New York area. Everyone left upset and angry after an unpleasant annual Easter dinner with their three adult chil My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada/Doubleday for this compelling domestic thriller by Shari Lapena. This character study and mystery had me riveted to the pages throughout, and I found it a tantalizing, twisted puzzle. The plot revolves around the gruesome murder of Fred and Sheila Merton, a multi-millionaire family in their mansion in an exclusive upstate New York area. Everyone left upset and angry after an unpleasant annual Easter dinner with their three adult children (with their spouses and partner) and their longtime housekeeper present. The wealthy Fred Merton was a psychopath who took delight in emotionally abusing and belittling his three adult children. Their mother was distant and ineffective and did nothing to spare them the insults over the Easter meal. Fred was planning to revise his will and leave half to his sister, absent with the flu. This would still make the three siblings wealthy, but they were greedy and wanted the original bequest. He was murdered before any change could take place in the will. We are introduced to the three adult children, their backgrounds, personalities, and unpleasant home life. None of the family were likable, but this enhanced the mystery of who killed the Merton parents. All came across as vile, duplicitous people beset by avarice, distrust, and covetousness. As each sibling fell under suspicion, they were only too eager to believe another must be guilty and shift the blame. The police must sort through a series of lies, false alibis, deceit, distrust, and suspicious behavior. There were many surprises and red herrings uncovered in the investigation. It seemed that the truth would remain hidden, and justice would not be served. I was fascinated by the characters and their behaviors following the vicious murders and their growing distrust of one another. I loved the open-ended conclusion to the story and the hint of what might happen in the future. Brilliant! I thought this was the best so far of Shari Lapena's thrillers. As she is a Canadian writer, I just wish that she would use a Canadian location in one of her mysteries. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    JaymeO

    Who killed Fred and Sheila Merton? Not a Happy Family is Shari LaPena’s best writing to date! It is a whodunnit domestic suspense thriller that you do not want to miss. The Mertons are a crazy dysfunctional family, who are hiding secrets from each other, while pointing the finger at the others. When Fred and Sheila Merton are discovered by their housekeeper brutally murdered the morning after Easter dinner, their children become the prime suspects. The killer must be someone close to the family, Who killed Fred and Sheila Merton? Not a Happy Family is Shari LaPena’s best writing to date! It is a whodunnit domestic suspense thriller that you do not want to miss. The Mertons are a crazy dysfunctional family, who are hiding secrets from each other, while pointing the finger at the others. When Fred and Sheila Merton are discovered by their housekeeper brutally murdered the morning after Easter dinner, their children become the prime suspects. The killer must be someone close to the family, as they are murdered in a hateful rage. What happened at that fateful dinner? Each sibling has something to hide from the other, and their greedy, manipulative, self-absorbed personalities battle to keep secrets hidden. You see, Fred Merton was planning to change his will and everyone had something to gain from his murder. Catherine is the oldest, most successful and favorite child. She wants the Merton mansion. Dan is the middle child and biggest disappointment. He is the least favorite child and is having major financial troubles after his father sold the company that he was due to inherit. Jenna is the youngest child and just barely tolerated by her parents. She is living off her parents’ allowance and leads an out of control, rebellious lifestyle. Then there’s Rose…how does she fit into this family? I furiously kept turning the pages of this thriller, full of twists and turns and plenty of suspects. LaPena successfully casts doubts on all of the characters and makes the reader suspect everyone throughout the book. This is a stay up all night, don’t want to put it down kind of read that will keep you guessing until the very last page. I did not successfully predict the ending, while I did have my suspicions throughout. I wanted slightly more from the reveal, otherwise this would have been a 5 star read for me. I predict that this book will be a smash hit for Shari LaPena and I can’t wait to read her next thriller! 4.5/5 stars Please check out Domestic Thriller Night, where Shari LaPena discusses her book, along with Megan Miranda and Mary Kubica! https://youtu.be/gqn4whFsdKA Thank you very much to Ben Petrone at Penguin Random House who kindly gifted me the ARC of Not a Happy Family in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! If I could give this more than a five star 🌟 rating, I would. I have loved every book that Shari Lapena has written so far. Keep them coming Shari! Welcome to the rich, selfish, dysfunctional and insane Merton family. Everyone has a few secrets and everyone had a motive to kill the parents of this family. Even the housekeeper is a suspect! I was hooked from page one until the very end. I read this in one day because I could hardly wait to see what was on the next page. Th LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! If I could give this more than a five star 🌟 rating, I would. I have loved every book that Shari Lapena has written so far. Keep them coming Shari! Welcome to the rich, selfish, dysfunctional and insane Merton family. Everyone has a few secrets and everyone had a motive to kill the parents of this family. Even the housekeeper is a suspect! I was hooked from page one until the very end. I read this in one day because I could hardly wait to see what was on the next page. This is one of those fantastic edge of your seat suspense stories. I loved how well this plot played out and kept me guessing. This will definitely be one of my top reads for 2021!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    Happy that there's not much to the plot but the mystery was kept well until the end. Murder of an old rich couple and each of their kids are held suspicious of it. Unreliable characters. Unreliable narration. Easy to read writing. That's a good combination. The book looks long but seems really short. And I am glad it's like this when it comes to thrillers. The writing seems a bit repetitive or dragged in between the first half but it turned out much better in the second half. It's a good read but I w Happy that there's not much to the plot but the mystery was kept well until the end. Murder of an old rich couple and each of their kids are held suspicious of it. Unreliable characters. Unreliable narration. Easy to read writing. That's a good combination. The book looks long but seems really short. And I am glad it's like this when it comes to thrillers. The writing seems a bit repetitive or dragged in between the first half but it turned out much better in the second half. It's a good read but I wasn't surprised with the mystery reveal towards the end. I wanted more from the writing and the plot. I guess better thrillers are coming from the author. I am not disappointed with this book as it's my first read from the very popular author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    4+ stars! A fast-paced, entertaining, page-turning domestic suspense novel! I’m a huge fan of Shari Lapena and this latest release was another winner! There are three adult children in the wealthy Merton family. Their parents are found brutally murdered two days after their family Easter dinner. The children are shocked as they are pulled in for questioning related to the murders. There are plenty of secrets within the family making them wonder just who they can trust. This was an extremely unique 4+ stars! A fast-paced, entertaining, page-turning domestic suspense novel! I’m a huge fan of Shari Lapena and this latest release was another winner! There are three adult children in the wealthy Merton family. Their parents are found brutally murdered two days after their family Easter dinner. The children are shocked as they are pulled in for questioning related to the murders. There are plenty of secrets within the family making them wonder just who they can trust. This was an extremely unique narrative tone for me. The story is told from a distant third person perspective, yet I felt fully connected and engrossed within this twisty and suspenseful tale. I loved the short chapters of this family drama that always left me on edge wanting to read “just one more”. My suspicions flew all over the place, suspecting every single character at one point or another. Overall, this was a treat to read! I love this authors writing and am happy to report this lived up to my hopes and expectations. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for my review copy!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    "The only thing I like about rich people is their money." (Mary Astor) And finding a likeable rich person with redeeming qualities in this brood is a mass undertaking. Seriously, nary a one that you'll cozy up to in Not A Happy Family. Shari Lapena has them all just salivating at the thought of the green stuff.....until two of them will be six feet under with the other kind of green stuff growing over them. We're venturing into upstate New York in the gated community of Brecken Hill. Dinner will b "The only thing I like about rich people is their money." (Mary Astor) And finding a likeable rich person with redeeming qualities in this brood is a mass undertaking. Seriously, nary a one that you'll cozy up to in Not A Happy Family. Shari Lapena has them all just salivating at the thought of the green stuff.....until two of them will be six feet under with the other kind of green stuff growing over them. We're venturing into upstate New York in the gated community of Brecken Hill. Dinner will be served lavishly on this Easter Sunday with Sheila and Fred Merton holding court at both ends of the designer tablecloth. Along the outer edges will be Catherine and her husband Ted, Dan and his wife Lisa, and the youngest Jenna with her latest Jake. Irena, both long-time nanny and now housekeeper, will also be invited. A bevy of yellow-eyed grackles just going through the motions of being "family" in the weirdest sense. Not A Happy Family is centered on the bottom feeders far worse than in Knives Out.....the cutlery is already there. As Irena reports for work on Tuesday morning, she stumbles over the body of Sheila in the marbled entrance hall. As she enters into the kitchen, Fred lays prone on the terrazzo floor in a spreading pool of blood. She frantically calls 911. Not A Happy Family is a 3.5 kicked up to 4 Stars for entertaining on a dull weekend. Shari Lapena knows how to tell a tale as she's certainly done in the past. I realize that she had to pony out some ruthless characters within this dysfunctional family, but we were given an onslaught of creepy people who would swallow each other whole. And there's plenty of characters within this one to keep track of. You will suspect all of them. There doesn't appear to be a salvageable one in the bunch. Hence, our emotions won't be held hostage for just that reason. Not A Happy Family is certainly worth a looky look. It's a fast read that will keep you engaged with an ending zipped with a little twist tie. Let's see what Lapena has going in the next one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    4.5 stars, rounding up for fun. August 2021 BOTM. I love a good, whodunnit thriller with a juicy cast of nefarious characters. This is one of the most enjoyable ones I've read in recent memory. Chapters are short and crisp, ending mostly in riveting cliffhangers compelling you to read "just one more" chapter. I finished this in nearly a day - an accomplishment for me. I imagine these stories are tough to write because us thriller readers, we hate it when the reveal is over-the-top and we hate it w 4.5 stars, rounding up for fun. August 2021 BOTM. I love a good, whodunnit thriller with a juicy cast of nefarious characters. This is one of the most enjoyable ones I've read in recent memory. Chapters are short and crisp, ending mostly in riveting cliffhangers compelling you to read "just one more" chapter. I finished this in nearly a day - an accomplishment for me. I imagine these stories are tough to write because us thriller readers, we hate it when the reveal is over-the-top and we hate it when it's obvious. There's not an approach that will please every reader. However, Lapena amps up the motives lending many "obvious" culprits that genuinely left me guessing all the way til the end. News flash: I was wrong 🤦‍♂️ Rounding up due to the Epilogue and a brilliant final sentence that'll have you gasp out loud. Maybe even cheer. Happy sleuthing, friends! 🕵️‍♀️🕵️‍♂️

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dallas Strawn

    I honestly think that Shari Lapena is the true queen of domestic suspense.....she does it SO DAMN WELL. It’s addictive. You get into her books and at one point you totally think that everyone is guilty. In her new novel NOT A HAPPY FAMILY out 7/27 from Viking, there’s two elderly dead bodies, a 26 million dollar fortune, an embattled family, and everyone looks guilty. Who did it??? I literally sped read through this book. It’s phenomenal. It moves at a break neck speed it’s such a page turner. E I honestly think that Shari Lapena is the true queen of domestic suspense.....she does it SO DAMN WELL. It’s addictive. You get into her books and at one point you totally think that everyone is guilty. In her new novel NOT A HAPPY FAMILY out 7/27 from Viking, there’s two elderly dead bodies, a 26 million dollar fortune, an embattled family, and everyone looks guilty. Who did it??? I literally sped read through this book. It’s phenomenal. It moves at a break neck speed it’s such a page turner. Every single one of the characters practically is awful and unlikable....but it SO works in this novel for me. The Mertons are the epitome of a truly dysfunctional family, and Shari Lapena crafts it so beautifully. She’s absolutely an auto-buy author for me now, I look forward to her thrillers every summer. Even if you can predict a couple of her twists, [I had a hunch who did it all along], it’s worth reading just for the wild ride. 4.5 ⭐️ HAPPY PUB DAY to Queen Shari!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    Fred and Sheila Merton live in a big house in upstate New York. Fred has been a successful businessman and following tradition the pair have invited their three adult children, and partners, around for an Easter dinner. It turns out be a fraught affair as Fred imparts some unwelcome news on his offspring – each will be affected in a different way but none are happy with this particular festive gift. Shortly after, both Fred and Sheila meet a grisly end - murdered in their own home. Could it be t Fred and Sheila Merton live in a big house in upstate New York. Fred has been a successful businessman and following tradition the pair have invited their three adult children, and partners, around for an Easter dinner. It turns out be a fraught affair as Fred imparts some unwelcome news on his offspring – each will be affected in a different way but none are happy with this particular festive gift. Shortly after, both Fred and Sheila meet a grisly end - murdered in their own home. Could it be that one of the dinner guests perpetrated this crime? The children all have motive, but as we learn more about the circle of people surrounding this family it seems that others might be similarly inclined. The children are a pretty mixed-up bunch: a grasping daughter desperate to get her hands on the family pile, another daughter whose rebelliousness makes her something of a black sheep and a son who is suffering from money problems and mental health issues. Then there is Fred’s sister, a bitter old crow whose dislike of all of the children is unhesitatingly reciprocated. There are others too, lining up to be included in a lengthy list of possible suspects. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out, so bring on a couple of punchy, provocative detectives and let’s have at it. It’s good fun, if all a little unlikely, as the siblings and partners lie and cover-up whilst also suspecting each other of potentially being the murderer. The best character, though, is Fred’s vitriolic sister who has no end of run-ins with the family group. The whole thing lights up whenever she’s on the scene. There are plenty of twists and it’s practically impossible to guess whodunnit as all seem to have both the motive and the means. A pretty decent and undemanding mystery that kept me guessing and – just about – held my interest throughout. I listened to an audio version which was capably narrated by Ellen Archer. My thanks to Penguin UK Random House Audio and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    4.5 stars I've now read 5 of Shari Lapena's books, and this one is definitely my favorite of the bunch. It's a classic whodunit mystery. Every character seems to have a motive to kill so everyone is a suspect. I had a blast reading this book. The title is spot on as the Mercers are not a happy family. After a disastrous Easter dinner with their three adult children, Fred and Sheila Mercer, are found murdered in their home. So who killed them and why? Well, the parents were rich, very rich. And let 4.5 stars I've now read 5 of Shari Lapena's books, and this one is definitely my favorite of the bunch. It's a classic whodunit mystery. Every character seems to have a motive to kill so everyone is a suspect. I had a blast reading this book. The title is spot on as the Mercers are not a happy family. After a disastrous Easter dinner with their three adult children, Fred and Sheila Mercer, are found murdered in their home. So who killed them and why? Well, the parents were rich, very rich. And let's just say dysfunctional is a good way to describe the family dynamics. So it's not out of the realm of possibilities that one of the kids killed them in order to collect a sizable inheritance. But wait, you should also consider that some other people could stand to gain with Ma and Pa Mercer out of the way. The story kept me guessing until the very end. I would start to feel confident in my #1 suspect and then soon after the author would lay it on pretty thick about that person having a strong motive to kill. And then I would think that I need to pick a different suspect because the author is probably dropping some red herrings. This went on all throughout the story which is exactly what I want out of a mystery. This book is one of the best whodunits I've read in awhile because you bounce around from character to character and can't eliminate anyone as the killer. Highly recommend as a great weekend/vacation read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    This is my 6th try with this author. That is a ridiculous number of attempts considering that the only book I liked was “The Couple Next Door”. Sometimes I can be a really slow learner. Skimmed to end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I finally read my first Shari Lapena book! Not a Happy Family is filled with secrets. The Mercers? Every member of the family is hiding something. They are a wealthy family living in upstate New York. The night after the family (parents and three adult children) gathers, Fred and Sheila Mercer are murdered. Their children are bereft. Maybe? And maybe it’s a good thing their parents are gone because of the wealth they left behind, as well as finally breaking apart this family that was never happy? I finally read my first Shari Lapena book! Not a Happy Family is filled with secrets. The Mercers? Every member of the family is hiding something. They are a wealthy family living in upstate New York. The night after the family (parents and three adult children) gathers, Fred and Sheila Mercer are murdered. Their children are bereft. Maybe? And maybe it’s a good thing their parents are gone because of the wealth they left behind, as well as finally breaking apart this family that was never happy? Did one of the children murder the parents? Or was it a stranger? And why? This is a twisty, turny, dark thriller. I read it compulsively and could not put it down. Fred and Sheila were extremely unlikable, and Lapena nails the offputting family dynamics. Not a Happy Family is a clever and entertaining treat of a read. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nazanin

    3 Stars After Easter dinner, the parents are found murdered in their house and everyone is a suspect. Each one of them has a reason to be the killer. There are so many lies and secrets, everyone has their own agenda… Told in multiple POV, 3rd person, it’s a standalone novel. So far I have enjoyed most of Shari Lapena’s books and I think this one is my least favorite. I didn’t like any of the characters and I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, it fell flat for me. I expected something better from th 3 Stars After Easter dinner, the parents are found murdered in their house and everyone is a suspect. Each one of them has a reason to be the killer. There are so many lies and secrets, everyone has their own agenda… Told in multiple POV, 3rd person, it’s a standalone novel. So far I have enjoyed most of Shari Lapena’s books and I think this one is my least favorite. I didn’t like any of the characters and I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, it fell flat for me. I expected something better from this author, something more thrilling and shocking. The story is fast-paced but the plot isn’t strong really. But there is a positive point here and it’s the short chapters. Overall, it didn’t live up to my expectations but hope you enjoy it more than me!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I'm not a Shari Lapena fan girl in the least. In fact, I've given two of her books one star, so her books are generally an automatic pass for me; however, this was the only BOTM choice though that I either hadn't read or sounded remotely interesting, so I decided to give it a shot. I'll admit, from page one, I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they never did! I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this wild, dysfunctional family whodunnit. Fred and Sheila Merton are found mur I'm not a Shari Lapena fan girl in the least. In fact, I've given two of her books one star, so her books are generally an automatic pass for me; however, this was the only BOTM choice though that I either hadn't read or sounded remotely interesting, so I decided to give it a shot. I'll admit, from page one, I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they never did! I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this wild, dysfunctional family whodunnit. Fred and Sheila Merton are found murdered in their wealthy, suburban home the morning after an extremely contentious Easter dinner with their three adult children. Fred is a character you love to hate - even for his brief book existence. He took pleasure in hurting his children with disturbing news, and Easter dinner was no different when he announced that he and Sheila were selling the family home, which oldest daughter, Catherine, has always wanted. He had also recently sold his mega million business, which meant that son, Dan, who had been expecting to take over the company, suddenly found himself unemployed, and his life in turmoil. The youngest daughter, Jenna, has been supported her whole life by her parents, but she is a disappointment to Fred, and he has told her that he is cutting her off. Sheila, while not as heinous as her husband, has always just stood by and allowed Fred to do whatever he wanted, and her children don't feel like she was ever an advocate for them. So when they are found dead, motives abound for all of the three children. Throw in a suspicious-acting housekeeper, Fred's money-hungry sister, and a plethora of other secondary characters with motive as well, and you have this book in a nutshell. If you googled "dysfunctional family," the Mertons would have to be pretty well near the top. Not one of them has any real redeeming qualities, but it fit the plot perfectly. I thought Lapena did a masterful job at dropping clues that potentially pointed to any one of them as the murderer - I suspected every one of them at some point, including the housekeeper. Did I think that it slightly fell apart at the end, yes. Did that deter from my overall enjoyment of the book, no. Although I'm still not a fan of Lapena's choppy writing style and rushed endings, this one has made me re-think my rush to judgment on her books as a whole! 4 stars.

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