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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


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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Free sample

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

Why I love it

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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Member ratings (42,755)

  • Elizabeth B.

    Mayfield Heights, OH

    I read Lapena’s “The Couple Next Door” in addition to this and now I want to read even more of her books! It’s exciting, page-turning, and I finished it in a long weekend. Definitely recommend.

  • Jennifer K.

    Lakewood , CO

    4.5⭐️ This book was a rollercoaster. I loved but also HATED how many different POV this book was told in. I didn’t really like any of the characters but the mystery of “who dunnit” saved it for me.

  • Tory A.

    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!

  • Tisha R.

    Senoia, GA

    Who killed Fred and Shelia? The one person I thought it was the whole time, it wasn’t. Some of the spouse’s thoughts don’t add to the story but overall I really enjoyed it! Definitely kept me guessing

  • Miranda L.

    Petaluma, CA

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐ What a page-turner! Kept me guessing. Plenty of red-herrings that also served a greater purpose to expose and unravel the family. There's repetition and the end could have been more satisfying.