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All booksThrillerNot a Happy Family
Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Not a Happy Family

Repeat author
Shari Lapena is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Couple Next Door.

by Shari Lapena

Quick take

We can't get enough of this twisted domestic suspense of a wealthy family unraveling after their parents are murdered.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

Why I love it

Ashley Audrain
Author, The Push

Few things are as satisfying as cracking open the spine of a book you just know you’re going to devour—and that’s what Shari Lapena delivers again and again. Her novels are expertly paced and deliciously twisty, reigning her one of the true queens of domestic suspense. Her latest, Not a Happy Family, does not disappoint. If, like me, you love dysfunctional sibling drama with high-stakes money in the mix, this is your next one-sitting read.

Fred and Sheila Merton are rich-rich and live a very nice life in upstate New York—until they’re gruesomely murdered in their home, after a disastrous Easter dinner with their three grown children. Now, each of the siblings has millions coming their way in inheritance, and an unspeakable sense of relief—Fred Merton was an emotionally abusive father and Sheila a neglectful mother. The problem is, the three siblings have never gotten along, and the police need someone to charge. Layer by layer, as we get the rotating perspectives of all three children, their increasingly suspicious spouses, the devoted housekeeper, and a meddling aunt, you’ll question who is framing whom, and what each person might be capable of.

Lapena gives us a razor-sharp who-dunnit thick with greed and deceit that will keep you guessing the ending with every page-turning chapter. If you’re a fan of the television show Succession, your itch for more Roy family drama will most certainly be scratched with the Merton’s. Prepare to binge this one!

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In this family, everyone is keeping secrets—especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don't come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you'd know.

Wouldn't you?

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Get an early look from the first pages of Not a Happy Family.

Member thoughts

All (14271)
All (14271)
Love (7277)
Like (6358)
Dislike (636)
14321 ratings
  • 51% Love
  • 44% Like
  • 4% Dislike
  • Oxford, CT

    Classic “who done it?” tale that has you questioning your thoughts just when you’re convinced that you have figured it all out. Wish the author would have gone into more details on childhood, but 4/5!

  • Oshkosh, WI

    I love Shari LaPena! She’s such an amazing story teller and she didn’t disappoint with this one! She had me guessing until the very end. I loved every character and the entire plot! Such a great read!

  • San Jose, CA

    Just the right amount of thrill/suspense for a person who usually doesn’t like that genre! With each chapter who I thought the killer was changed. The ending felt a little rushed or lackluster though.

  • Auburn , CA

    Oh boy was this one terrific read!! As I turned the pages I wanted to say, pass the popcorn— as I felt like I was watching the best suspenseful movie! And as far who done it’s go? Kept me guessing!!

  • Baltimore , MD

    My favorite type of book — a whodunit murder mystery! Lots of shady suspects and red herrings. I did not guess the twists, epilogue was good, but there were a few loose ends that were not tied up. 4/5

  • Watertown, NY

    When you set up the “Who Done It” vibe within the first two chapters I’m hooked! I couldn’t put it down and spent the whole book trying to figure it out. It was well written to boot! Great read!

  • Ridley Park, PA

    I flew through this book! It was amazing! You never really knew who was the murderer and I would flip back and forth between the family members constantly. I couldn’t put it down. I had to know who!

  • Shady Side, MD

    I’m impressed I enjoyed this book as much as I did when all of the characters in it were so dislikable. You could kind of see the “twist” coming but Lapena did a good job of making you doubt it.

  • Plymouth, MN

    Was is Colonel Mustard in the library with the rope? Much like a game of Clue but never really got the sense I was right about any of the suspects. Everyone had something to hide & were equally awful

  • Mingo Junction , OH

    This book really reeled me in! It was full of suspense and mystery! I never knew who the killer was until the very end! It had me pointing fingers to almost all the characters! I love this author now!

  • Honolulu, HI

    You can tell this family is related. The author cleverly weaves their genetic brand of crazy through the novel. I loved all the twists and turns, the spouse's dilemmas, the erosion of trust. So good!!

  • Winchester, VA

    Such a fun read! Awful, rich parents murdered after family Easter dinner. Did one of the children kill for their inheritance? Sibling rivalry, secrets, lies, greed, fear, psychopathy. Twists galore!

  • Horsham , PA

    This book is a novel that will enrapt you page after page. Read this book in a 2 day period. You think you have the puzzle figured out and there is a twist and turn. Which leaves you feeling curious.

  • South Lyon, MI

    This book was amazing! Such a fast read that held my attention until the very end. I couldn’t put this book down! It was a definite case of who done it, with multiple suspects thrown in. Great book!

  • Plainview, NE

    Holy smokes - tall about a page tuner!! This takes your classic who done it tale to the extreme! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time trying to figure out the guilty party, highly recommend!

  • Calvert City, KY

    If your family is a bit screwed up, read this book! You will think damn, we aren't so bad. Unreliable characters, family secrets, it's got everything a good book needs! Thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  • Wendell, NC

    Absolutely loved the book! I finished it in on a 6 hour car ride and it was such a fun, drama filled read with plenty of twists! The characters were totally unlikeable in the best way. Def recommend!

  • Chula Vista, CA

    This was a very engaging and quick read. I felt at times that the killer could have been any of the kids and kept changing my mind throughout the book. This was a fun read and I couldn't put it down.

  • Union Grove, WI

    Shari Lapena is an excellent mystery writer and kept me guessing until the last pages of book. Murdered parents, and the siblings are each suspect; each has a reason to want them killed. Great book.

  • Hagerstown, MD

    I really enjoyed this book. The who did it was hard to figure out. The characters are all messed up. Fun read and spine tingling at the same time! Definitely recommend for a getaway read. Loved it!

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