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A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel with eccentric, dysfunctional characters who will keep you guessing until the end—for readers of Luckiest Girl Alive and The Wife Between Us.
Ava has her reasons for running away to Paris. But when she receives the shocking news that her twin sister, Zelda, is dead, she is forced to return home to her family’s failing vineyard in upstate New York. Knowing Zelda’s penchant for tricks and deception, Ava is not surprised when she receives her twin’s cryptic message from beyond the grave. Following her sister’s trail of clues, Ava immerses herself in Zelda’s drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers, and soon finds herself confronted with dark family legacies and twisted relationships. Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending? Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut thriller is a literary scavenger hunt for secrets hidden everywhere from wine country to social media, and buried at the dysfunctional heart of one utterly unforgettable family.
Praise for Dead Letters
“Dolan-Leach writes like Paula Hawkins by way of Curtis Sittenfeld.”—Amy Gentry, author of Good as Gone
“A sharp, wrenching tale of the true love only twins know . . . Dolan-Leach nimbly entwines the clever mystery of Agatha Christie, the wit of Dorothy Parker, and the inebriated Gothic of Eugene O’Neill.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A smart, dazzling mystery . . . Dolan-Leach revels in toying with both Ava and her audience . . . and the result is captivating.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“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.”—Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten
“Push-pull tension . . . This book is wine-soaked yet lucid, comforting and frightening, asking the big questions about intimacy and loyalty.”—Caroline Kepnes, author of You
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Not worth the read
The book began with some enticing details, kept me hanging on a little bit, but wasn't so great that I couldn't put it down. I'm the type of reader that will read for 8 hours straight, as long as I'm kept interested. This book didn't do that. I truly think the author took a thesaurus and replaced as many words as she could to make it seem like she was much more educated than the average author. Not the case. The words she used were definitely not the kinds of words that anyone uses on a daily basis. The ending was horrible. Absolutely sucked. I just finished it and I'm literally annoyed. What a waste of time. Could have been a totally different ending that left readers feeling hopeful, but it did the absolute opposite. I will not be reading anything from this author again, not my cup of tea.
I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book...the writing is spectacular, the characters rich and authentic, and the story is riveting. I haven't read a book this good in a long time.
What an ending!
Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.
Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.
As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.
One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.
The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)
Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!
I’ll sum it up this way - for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.
So should you read the book?
If you’re into literary books - YES.
If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking - YES.
I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.