Published: August 17, 2021
Genre(s): adult, suspense, mystery
Read as: physical, from publisher
At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen.
With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.
Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic façade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.
This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher for review. All thoughts are my own.
I’ve read some books in my time with dislikable main characters but, oh boy, the walking moron that is Dahlia Lighthouse really takes the cake. But, I think, that is part of the point.
Dahlia grew up in an unconventional way, secluded away from society on an island estate and home schooled by her murderer obsessed mother. Her mother went so far as to name all of her four children after after famous murder victims. Dahlia, of course, is after the Black Dahlia, a real life victim of a gruesome murder in an LA park. If that doesn’t set the stage for the gothicesque feel of this book then I am not sure what will.
Now, Dahlia left home after her twin brother disappeared on their sixteenth birthday and she has assumed for ten years that he ran away and would come back to her someday. After returning to the island following her father’s death, she learns that her brother was actually murdered ten years prior and hidden in their father’s burial plot.
The premise for this book is interesting enough. Try to figure out her murdered her brother with decade old evidence on a small island full of locals that view the family as a side show attraction. You know, no big deal.
Overall, I really enjoyed the base story of this book. Grisly murder and everyone is a suspect. What let this book down a bit were the characters. They were all just so thoroughly unlikeable. I think this story was supposed to be a maturing plot for Dahlia, how she changes and grows after living mostly stagnant after her brother’s death/disappearance, but I ended up being so thoroughly annoyed with her character that I couldn’t begin to care about her. She is so absurdly self absorbed and thinks her way is the only right way and does not care if anyone gets hurt by her callous and narrowed minded behavior. It is difficult to spend over 300 pages with a character you simply don’t like in any way. I couldn’t even force myself to feel sympathy for her.
This was a good mystery for the most part. On a personal level I would have liked to be able to connect with any of the characters but my own feelings about that didn’t detract from the need to know the murderer and the motive. I’d read a book from Collins again.
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