I was about 80% done this book when I was certain I wasn’t going to write a review. Then the ending happened, and obviously, I changed my mind. It’s one of those books that I just can’t find the right descriptor for. Is awful? No. Is it amazing? No. Is it good? Maybe…? It’s kind of a nothing book. It’s well written, but I don’t love the style (letters). The mystery is mildly intriguing, but I wasn’t engrossed. It was more like background noise. It’s that tv show you fall asleep to because you don’t hate it enough to change the channel or like it enough to pay attention. It’s perfectly adequate.
Beatrice has returned to England from her super cushy life in New York to find out what happened to her younger sister. Beatrice describes herself as being as stuffy as her name – her middle name, as she’d never suit her completely ridiculous first name of Arabella – I’m sorry to all the Arabellas out there, but this sounds like the name a four year old comes up with for her princess dolly and later mocks herself for using. Then Beatrice goes on to basically blame her mother for her personality. If only her mom had told her earlier that she was named after the feisty lead in Much Ado, she might have turned out to be an entirely different person. Someone more like her free spirited sister Tess. Her name dictated everything about her. It sets up pretty much everything you need to know about Beatrice as a character. She has no backbone. Honestly, one of the most difficult things for me to accept was that Bea was 26 years old. 26! This character reads like a more than stodgy middle aged woman. And if she’s 26, how old is Todd? Maybe I hang in the wrong circles, but I didn’t really know any guys in their mid-twenties guys like Todd. He reads more like Tess’s father than her boyfriend. What a bore!
Remember these guys? These guys were in their 20s.
Beatrice is telling the story of how Tess died, to the already dead Tess. I guess it’s an interesting perspective. We all know that Tess is not going to be found alive, so there’s a kind of dramatic irony – without the drama. All the exciting moments have already happened and we’re just getting the recap. We also know that something is wrong with Beatrice. She keeps referring to her waning health, her weakness, her memory troubles. These keep coming out when she’s talking to Mr. Right and explaining the story from a facts based perspective. – unlike the emotional perspective she uses when speaking directly to Tess. The story is much more a telling of Beatrice’s guilt about not calling Tess back than about the murder itself. Her fiancé believes she’s going through a mental breakdown, and I’m entirely not sure he’s wrong. The whole thing comes together into a rather boring story for the reader.
But let’s get to the good part – the end. This is the most controversial part of the story – people either love it or hate it. Most people seem to hate it. Lupton tricks the reader. We find out that Bea’s illness is because she’s actually lying on the floor of a bathroom dying from an overdose forced on her by the guy that killed Tess!
There was no Mr. Right. She made him up as a technique to go over the story. You either figured this out or you didn’t. If you didn’t – like me, it was a surprising moment. I thought it was a pleasant surprise. I was sure this meant that Beatrice was going to die. This was the ending that would have saved the book. But no, a savior jumped out of the woodwork and miraculously found her. And it was a typical ending again. I don’t know who I would recommend this for, – the most apt recommendation I’ve read says it’s a crime procedural for people who don’t like crime drama. Lots of people love the book and it was on the best seller list for a long time. I don’t regret reading it. I might even try one of her other books when I’ve got nothing else to read.