REVIEW: A Family of Strangers
A FAMILY OF STRANGERS, a good murder mystery and reunited lovers’ theme, leaves the reader with one unasked question – would you do the same thing if faced with this situation?
Ryan Rose Gracey is celebrating the success of her cold case podcast she co-produces with her friend Sophie when she receives an urgent call from her older sister. Wendy believes she’s a murder suspect, wrongly accused, and needs Ryan to take care of her daughters while she hides until the situation calms down.
As the evidence stacks up, and Ryan learns more about her sister, I couldn’t stop asking myself – what if this was me? Ryan has support with her investigation from the podcasts’ staff and contacts, but her biggest ally is her former boyfriend, Teo Santiago and his dog Bismarck. The pair had once saved her life – will they need to do it again?
Ryan feels like she has lived her whole life within her older sister’s shadow. Even though Wendy wasn’t around much during Ryan’s formative years, she always felt like her parents favored Wendy. That’s why she’s shocked when Wendy asks her to take care of her two daughters while her husband is serving their country.
Sure – Ryan is the most likely person to track down evidence for Wendy, but they’ve never been close enough for Ryan to know much at all about her life or her children. Meanwhile, Ryan must keep Wendy’s secret from their parents, Wendy’s young daughters, and her frequently absent submarine commander husband. All while taking care of these two sad children she hardly knows during the holidays.
Coming home has benefits as well as added stressors. Ryan’s dad is recovering from heart surgery and can’t be told his oldest daughter is in hiding. The same daughter he hopes will be his replacement when he retires from the company he owns. Mom seems withdrawn from Ryan, not knowing why her favorite daughter turned to her sister for help instead of her parents.
Then there’s Teo and Bismarck – the man and dog who saved Ryan’s life years ago and never left her heart. Will reuniting with Teo be what Ryan needs, or just more stress to add to her already full plate?
A good story, this novel explores what you assume about your family is not always reality. Ryan is much more complex as the main character than I expected at the beginning. There were several moments when I thought she was gullible, but she didn’t let that be my last thought. She kept her investigator antenna up, and her suspect list wide enough to discover the truth.
For the most part, I found the story to be believable and consistent. I did doubt and question everyone’s ability to keep the situation from Ryan and Wendy’s father. As the head of a corporation, I felt he should be asking more questions, even though he was told to relax by his doctor. I also wondered why no one at his company reached out to him or his wife regarding Wendy. Who was running the company in his absence? But that was such a small part in an otherwise exciting journey to the conclusion.
The end was some parts expected with some shockers mixed in with the obvious. I was proud of Ryan’s sense of righteousness. But I still had to wonder – would I do the same? Would you?
My favorite part of this book were the characters. I really enjoyed Ryan and Teo’s relationship. They had history and a past to forgive, but their attraction was undeniable. The dog was a fun addition, especially when interacting with Ryan’s nieces, Noelle and Holly. At six and eight-years-old, they stole each scene they were in and tugged at my heart. Bestie Sophie was a good sidekick, making Ryan think outside the box. At almost 500 pages, there were many well-drawn characters that made this book flow, pulling my attention back to the book as soon as I could sneak in a few more minutes of reading. Great entertainment overall.
I’ve been a fan of author Emilie Richards’ talent since I read ONE MOUNTAIN AWAY, book one in the GODDESSES ANONYMOUS series. I had no expectations for A FAMILY OF STRANGERS, but it did have a different feel from the GODDESSES ANONYMOUS books.
I was surprised at the depth of this mystery in comparison to the emotion in Richards’ books I’ve previously read. There is still plenty of emotion within these pages, but the book focuses more on crime solving and how twisted relationships can occur in our minds compared to reality. This family is complicated with great surprises woven into the mystery.
An intriguing story, this novel is the perfect book club selection because it will generate interesting discussion about good vs. evil. And where we would each draw the line between them. Mystery lovers will enjoy this one. A FAMILY OF STRANGERS opened my eyes to the broad strokes of talent within Emilie Richards’ style.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. Digital copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. Thanks in advance for following links and sharing this review on social media.
A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards
Category: Women’s Fiction/Thriller
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (June 25, 2019)
Rated 4 out of 5