Discovering the identity of her birth parents and her inheritance of a valuable mansion, 25-year-old Libby makes horrifying discoveries about the massacre and disappearances of her biological family. By the best-selling author of Then She Was Gone. 200,000 first printing.
*Starred Review* Libby receives a surprise inheritance on her twenty-fifth birthday: she's been left a mansion in London's Chelsea neighborhood, the house where she was abandoned as a baby. It was a huge scandal at the time, as she was clean and cared for, but her parents were long dead in the kitchen, having entered into a suicide pact. All of this had been hidden from Libby until now, and she's determined to find out the truth behind her family's history. Meanwhile, in France, Lucy travels from hostel to hostel with her two children in tow, barely getting by as a street musician, when she gets a mysterious text that drives her to extremes in order to get back to London. Her connection to the Chelsea house (and therefore Libby) is at the heart of Jewell's latest thriller. The suspense mounts, moving from Libby to Lucy in the present as well as in mesmerizing flashbacks. No one is quite whom they seem to be, and everyone is willing to do whatever is needed in order to get what they want. Another dark winner from Jewell, who expertly teases out her tricky tale with stunning moments and richly drawn characters. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
Three siblings who have been out of touch for more than 20 years grapple with their unsettling childhoods, but when the youngest inherits the family home, all are drawn back together. At the age of 25, Libby Jones learns she has inherited a large London house that was held in a trust left to her by her birthparents. When she visits the lawyer, she is shocked to find out that she was put up for adoption when she was 10 months old after her parents died in the house in an apparent suicide pact with an unidentified man and that she has an older brother and sister who were teenagers at the time of their parents' deaths and haven't been seen since. Meanwhile, in alternating narratives, we're introduced to Libby's sister, Lucy Lamb, who's on the verge of homelessness with her two children in the south of France, and her brother, Henry Lamb, who's attempting to recall the last few disturbing years with his parents during which they lost their wealth and were manipulated into letting friends move into their home. These friends included the controlling but charismatic David Thomsen, who moved his own wife and two children into the rooms upstairs. Henry also remembe rs his painful adolescent confusion as he became wildly infatuated with Phineas, David's teenage son. Meanwhile, Libby connects with Miller Roe, the journalist who covered the story about her family, and the pair work together to find her brother and sister, determine what happened when she was an infant, and uncover who has recently been staying in the vacant house waiting for Libby to return. As Jewell (Watching You, 2018, etc.) moves back and forth from the past to the present, the narratives move swiftly toward convergence in her signature style, yet with the exception of Lucy's story, little suspense is built up and the twists can't quite make up for the lack of deep characters and emotionally weighty moments. This thriller is taut and fast-paced but lacks compelling protagonists. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Libby picks up the letter off the doormat. She turns it in her hands. It looks very formal; the envelope is cream in color, made of high-grade paper, and feels as though it might even be lined with tissue. The postal frank says: Smithkin Rudd & Royle Solicitors, Chelsea Manor Street, SW3."
She takes the letter into the kitchen and sits it on the table while she fills the kettle and puts a tea bag in a mug. Libby is pretty sure she knows what's in the envelope. She turned twenty-five last month. She's been subconsciously waiting for this envelope. But now that it's here she's not sure she can face opening it.
She picks up her phone and calls her mother.
"Mum," she says. "It's here. The letter from the trustees."
She hears a silence at the other end of the line. She pictures her mum in her own kitchen, a thousand miles away in Dénia: pristine white units, lime-green color-coordinated kitchen accessories, sliding glass doors onto a small terrace with a distant view to the Mediterranean, her phone held to her ear in the crystal-studded case that she refers to as her bling.
"Oh," she says. "Right. Gosh. Have you opened it?"
"No. Not yet. I'm just having a cup of tea first."
"Right," she says again. Then she says, Shall I stay on the line? While you do it?"
"Yes," says Libby. "Please."
She feels a little breathless, as she sometimes does when she's just about to stand up and give a sales presentation at work, like she's had a strong coffee. She takes the tea bag out of the mug and sits down. Her fingers caress the corner of the envelope and she inhales.
"OK," she says to her mother, I'm doing it. I'm doing it right now."
Her mum knows what's in here. Or at least she has an idea, though she was never told formally what was in the trust. It might, as she has always said, be a teapot and a ten-pound note.
Libby clears her throat and slides her finger under the flap. She pulls out a sheet of thick cream paper and scans it quickly:
To Miss Libby Louise Jones
As trustee of the Henry and Martina Lamb Trust created on 12 July 1977, I propose to make the distribution from it to you described in the attached schedule"
She puts down the covering letter and pulls out the accompanying paperwork.
"Well? says her mum, breathlessly.
"Still reading," she replies.
She skims and her eye is caught by the name of a property. Sixteen Cheyne Walk, SW3. She assumes it is the property her birth parents were living in when they died. She knows it was in Chelsea. She knows it was big. She assumed it was long gone. Boarded up. Sold. Her breath catches hard at the back of her throat when she realizes what she's just read.
"Er," she says.
"It looks like No, that can't be right."
"The house. They've left me the house."
"The Chelsea house?"
"Yes," she says.
"The whole house?"
"I think so. There's a covering letter, something about nobody else named on the trust coming forward in due time. She can't digest it at all.
"My God. I mean, that must be worth"
Libby breathes in sharply and raises her gaze to the ceiling. "This must be wrong," she says. "This must be a mistake."
"Go and see the solicitors," says her mother. "Call them. Make an appointment. Make sure it's not a mistake."
"But what if it's not a mistake? What if it's true?"
"Well then, my angel," says her motherand Libby can hear her smile from all these miles awayyou'll be a very rich woman indeed."
Libby ends the call and stares around her kitchen. Five minutes ago, this kitchen was the only kitchen she could afford, this flat the only one she could buy, here in this quiet street of terraced cottages in the backwaters of St. Albans. She remembers the flats and houses she saw during her online searches, the little intakes of breath as her eye caught upon the perfect placea suntrap terrace, an eat-in kitchen, a five-minute walk to the station, a bulge of ancient leaded windows, the suggestion of cathedral bells from across a greenand then she would see the price and feel herself a fool for ever thinking it might be for her.
She compromised on everything in the end to find a place that was close to her job and not too far from the train station. There was no gut instinct as she stepped across the threshold; her heart said nothing to her as the estate agent showed her around. But she made it a home to be proud of, painstakingly creaming off the best that T.J.Maxx had to offer, and now her badly converted, slightly awkward one-bedroom flat makes her feel happy. She bought it; she adorned it. It belongs to her.
But now it appears she is the owner of a house on the finest street in Chelsea and suddenly her flat looks like a ridiculous joke. Everything that was important to her five minutes ago feels like a joke'the £1,500-a-year raise she was just awarded at work, the hen weekend in Barcelona next month that took her six months to save for, the MAC eye shadow she allowed herself to buy last weekend as a treat for getting the pay raise, the soft frisson of abandoning her tightly managed monthly budget for just one glossy, sweet-smelling moment in House of Fraser, the weightlessness of the tiny MAC bag swinging from her hand, the shiver of placing the little black capsule in her makeup bag, of knowing that she owned it, that she might in fact wear it in Barcelona, where she might also wear the dress her mother bought her for Christmas, the one from French Connection with the lace panels she'd wanted for ages. Five minutes ago her joys in life were small, anticipated, longed-for, hard-earned and saved-up-for, inconsequential little splurges that meant nothing in the scheme of things but gave the flat surface of her life enough sparkles to make it worth getting out of bed every morning to go and do a job which she liked but didn't love.
Now she owns a house in Chelsea and the proportions of her existence have been blown apart.
She slides the letter back into its expensive envelope and finishes her tea.