In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up. In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note. They’ve been dead for several days. Who has been looking after the baby? And where did they go?
How can you not be intrigued after reading that blurb?! I’d seen a few people recommend this book and as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it too.
Murder mystery books never used to be my kind of story but in recent years, I’ve found myself intrigued and I’ve become completely hooked by every single one I’ve read! I loved the One of Us is Lying series and Elizabeth is Missing, both of which I’ve written a review on, and I’ve got so many more on my reading list.
Firstly, this book is an absolute page-turner from the get-go. The whole idea of finding out who was caring for the baby before the bodies were found was interesting enough, but when you find out the baby is now 25 and has inherited the house, found out she has long-lost siblings that are nowhere to be seen and now needs to learn everything about who her birth family were and what happened to them, you’ll be sat up for hours desperate to find out everything!
There are some really interesting twists and turns, as well as side stories away from the main mystery – for example, Henry being an unreliable narrator (I’ll leave it at that!) and Lucy’s fateful meal with her ex-husband (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it). The relationship between Henry and Phin is one to look out for and by far one of the most interesting parts of the book.
There was also a particularly dramatic ending and shock reveal right on the last page that I wasn’t expecting which leaves it somewhat open to another book. However, I don’t know if another book is needed. I think the shock-factor of the ending was perfect and it leaves the reader wondering and revelling in the darkness of the story which for me, is enough.
I have to say, it was darker than I thought it was going to be, which is quite a thing to say about a book that is based around the mysterious deaths of three people! As the reader, you find out a lot more than the actual characters do which makes it quite disturbing at points. There’s a lot of dark themes which is worth taking into account if you’re thinking of reading this book.
Also, this book tells the story from three different narrators which I loved. The first is the ‘baby’, the now 25-year-old Libby who inherits the house in which the bodies were found, the second a woman named Lucy who lives in France with her two children and somehow knows that the ‘baby’ has turned 25, and the third a man named Henry telling the story of the house during 1980s when everything initially happened. It feels as though you’re finding everything out as Libby does, but also getting an insight into the truth from Henry that Libby doesn’t know AND trying to figure out who Lucy is and how she relates to the story at the same time.
I think The Family Upstairs is so well-written and I’d love to read more from Lisa Jewell. She’s written so many more books so I’m going to have a look and see if any others are my kind of thing. I also think this book would make such a good film, but only if it was done right – there’s so many films adapted from books that are nowhere near as good as the book!
Have you read The Family Upstairs? Are murder-mysteries your kind of thing? If so, let me know your recommendations!