Book Reviews

Book Review: The Family Remains

By Lisa Jewell

Published August 2022

381 Pages

In the follow-up to The Family Upstairs, we reconnect with Lucy and Henry Lamb, the siblings traumatized by the grifter who conned their family decades ago.  Lucy has moved in with Henry and is searching for a home to provide stability for her children.  But human remains have just washed up on the shores of the Thames and the detective inspector in charge of the case matches them to a pop artist who went missing in the mid-1990s.  Her last known residence was believed to be the Lamb home in Chelsea, the site of the mysterious cult murder-suicide.

While the inspector closes in on the crimes committed during Henry and Lucy’s adolescence, Henry’s teen-age crush, Finn (another trauma survivor), has surfaced in Africa.  But Finn flees when he finds out that Lucy and their daughter, Libby, are coming to see him. Henry also disappears and Lucy is afraid he’s gone after Finn.  Knowing Henry still harbors an obsession with Finn and unsure who committed the murder all those years ago, Lucy races to find her brother before their fragile peace is shattered.

This is considered a stand-alone novel but I think it’s best if you read The Family Upstairs first.  Mainly because most of the suspense hinges on Henry.  He’s definitely the stand-out voice in this book and his mental instability is so well done, I cringed several times at the lengths he went to to find Finn.  If you start with this book, I think a lot of his personality and motivation might be lost without the context of why he is the way he is.

“The Family Remains” interpreted by Wombo Dream

Another reason to read The Family Upstairs first is because a lot of this story revolves around Lucy killing her ex-husband Michael in that novel (not really a spoiler, there was no mystery around that).  It adds to her constant fear that the other shoe is about to drop, that she’s not really safe with the police investigating her family’s unsolved riddles from decades ago.  As well, a fairly large plot line in this novel deals with Rachel, Michael’s second wife.  That storyline runs parallel to the main plot, although it takes place a few years earlier.

Lots of subplots and threads running through this book, each holding their own and tied up satisfactorily at the end.  I was a little nonplussed that Henry’s plot line seemed to fizzle out in the last few chapters but that was simply a case of him behaving himself for a very short period of time.  He’s by far the most memorable character in both books, even if I found him unsettling.

This one is on my recommendation list.

A solid 4 stars  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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