Simon & Schuster UK | 29 September 2022 | 400 pgs
This book features one of the most unusual families I've ever read and if you've watched this movie, Ready or Not, they've similar vibes though this is more of a whodunit kind of story.
Harriet Reed is basking in her success after selling her first thriller book and while she is writing and worrying over her second book's deadline, her mind nowadays is occupied by her engagement to Edward Holbeck. Edward is a perfect man in many women's eyes - he's young, good-looking and he's the heir to a successful and powerful family who has their name and reputation well-built over decades.
When Harriet first receives an invitation from Edward's sister for a drink, she's nervous yet she's excited too. She could tell the Holbeck family exudes power and authority after Mathilda's assistant changed her meeting appointment with her publisher so that she could attend the meet up with Mathilda. Granted, the publisher is a part of the Holbeck's business conglomerate and Harriet only finds out much later. It's not long that Harriet is invited for dinner with the family and she finds herself attracted by Edward’s father's charisma yet there's an edge behind his cool demeanour which she couldn't put her finger on.
But Harriet is quick to impress Robert Holbeck so when he hands her a cassette tape of a book he's been working on, she couldn't say no. And the more Harriet listen to it, the more Robert's narrative read like a murder confession than a fiction. And as if this isn't enough, the Holbecks has several (weird) traditional family games which they'd play during occasions which scare her. Harriet isn't sure if all these are simply part of their plan to test her loyalty; if not would she be able to escape from the Holbecks' mind games?
As much as the story goes, I think it was a bit far-fetched yet it was very entertaining and unputdownable. The characters drove you crazy yet you couldn't shift your attention away. I'd mixed feelings towards Harriet though; one moment I felt sorry for her and then frustrated and annoyed at her actions next. Robert's narrative was intriguing and I always love reading a frame story. I'd have given this book a 4-star but alas that ending (more of the motive) felt a bit ridiculous in my opinion but suffice it to say there wasn't any boring moments so overall it was an engrossing read.
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