A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel of suspense for fans of Luckiest Girl Alive and Reconstructing Amelia.
"Ahoy, Ava! Welcome home, my sweet jet-setting twin! So glad you were able to wrest yourself away from your dazzling life in the City of Light; I hope my 'death' hasn't interrupted anything too crucial."
Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.
Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls' increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message - from her sister.
Just as Ava suspected, Zelda's playing one of her games. In fact she's outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda's drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava's heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving or to teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?
Featuring a colorful, raucous cast of characters, Caite Dolan-Leach's debut thriller takes listeners on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.
"Every page of Dead Letters is flush with push-pull tension; it's an incredibly well-crafted high stakes scavenger hunt of emotional wounds, asking the big questions about intimacy and loyalty. I love this book on so many levels. We are so lucky that this debut novelist chose to shine her light on that most inescapable, infuriating dichotomy: Are you a good girl or a bad girl?" (Caroline Kepnes, author of Hidden Bodies and You)
"In this, her startling debut novel, Dolan-Leach nimbly entwines the clever mystery of Agatha Christie, the wit of Dorothy Parker, and the inebriated Gothic of Eugene O'Neill. A sharp, wrenching tale of the true love only twins know." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach is a perfectly orchestrated cat-and-mouse thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last chapter. This beautifully written novel draws you in like you are part of the story itself, living and breathing alongside the compelling characters as they uncover the dark secrets of their complicated family. Dead Letters unfolds with meticulous precision. Not to be missed!" (Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten)
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Wanted to Like It, Could Not
No. Although it started out somewhat interesting, the main "mystery" reveal became very obvious very fast and the characters were so strange and unlikeable that I couldn't' discern or relate to any of their motives. I didn't care what happened to any of them. But, since it was an audiobook, I continued to let it play on a long car ride. Had I been forced to quit 3/4 of the way through and never hear the end, I wouldn't have cared at all. Throughout the book I dreaded what I was afraid the ending would be, but it was actually worse than I expected. The book spent its bulk creating what seemed like a mystery (but is in fact a very strange, implausible and completely unrealistic series of events) and then tried to explain all its characters motives in the last chapter. But, by that time, I was so exhausted of the silly game and awful people that I just didn't care. And even if one happened to somehow like one of the characters, I do not think the attempted explanation of what they did in the book would be understandable or satisfying to that person.
No - the entire too-clever tone of the book and lengthy emails between the characters which attempted to be cute and intelligent did not intrigue me. Further, the overall style of the mystery (which wasn't) and unlikable characters does not make me a fan or give me confidence that I would enjoy future titles from this author.
Made the characters seems more mature and in line with their ages. They seemed very young and immature - almost as though I was hearing an adult attempt baby talk.
No. Unless the characters could be infused with some redeeming qualities and/or their motivations could be discerned and related to. I have no idea why any of them did anything they did in they book, even after the author's attempt to bring it all together at the end.
monotonous and sadistic