In this thrilling sequel to The Family Upstairs from Lisa Jewell, nothing’s as it seems and everything is connected.
Good to know
Second in series
Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.
Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.
After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.
As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.
The Family Remains
“Yes. Here. That’s me.”
I stare down at the young man who stands below me ankle-deep in the mud of the banks of the Thames. He has sandy hair that hangs in curtains on either side of a soft, freckled face. He’s wearing kneehigh rubber boots and a khaki gilet with multiple pockets and is surrounded by a circle of gawping people. I go to him, trying to keep my shoes away from the mud.
“Good morning,” I say. “I’m Detective Inspector Samuel Owusu. This is Saffron Brown from our forensics team.” I see Jason Mott trying very hard not to look as if he is excited to be in the presence of two real-life detectives—and failing. “I hear you have found something. Maybe you could explain?”
He nods eagerly. “Yes. So. Like I said on the phone. I’m a mudlarking guide. Professional. And I was out here this morning with my group and this young lad here”—he points to a boy who looks about twelve years old—“he was poking about and opened up this bag.” He points at a black bin bag sitting on some shingle. “I mean, rule number one of mudlarking is no touching, but this was just sitting there, like someone had just dropped it there, so I guess it was OK for him to open it.”
Although I know nothing of mudlarking rules, I throw the young boy a reassuring look and he appears relieved.
“Anyway. I don’t know, I mean, I’m no forensics expert . . .” Jason Mott smiles nervously at Saffron, and I see him flush a little. “But I thought that they looked like they might be, you know, human bones.”
Why I love it
Author, Cutting Teeth
I consider myself something of a thriller connoisseur and it’s my firm belief that you’d be hard pressed to chisel out a Mount Rushmore of thriller writers that doesn’t include Lisa Jewell. With The Family Remains, a sequel to her novel The Family Upstairs, Jewell crafts a story that’s equal parts multi-generational drama and intricately-plotted mystery.
When the mummified body of Birdie Dunlop-Evers washes up on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu opens an investigation into a thirty-year-old cold case that will uncover buried connections and personal histories that span years and even continents. In London, Rachel Gold has just embarked on a whirlwind romance with a wealthy, older man that will change the course of her life. Henry Lamb crosses the Atlantic to track Phineas, a guy who doesn’t want to be found and the unwilling object of a cruel teenage obsession. His sister, Lucy, has gone from rags to riches in the blink of an eye. Now on the cusp of finally buying a home for herself and her children, Lucy hightails it to America to hunt down Henry before he catches up to Phineas.
At the center is a large house where unspeakable things occurred decades earlier, a house where Birdie was apparently murdered. But someone moved her body in the last year, just before the house was sold. The question is who.
As a suspense lover, I’ll admit that one of the common criticisms of the genre is that characters are sometimes rendered a tad thin, but Jewell approaches her thrillers as true character studies. Come for the twists, the chilling whodunits, and the jaw-dropping reveals, absolutely, but it’s the finely tuned insight into human psychology and relationships that stick with me.
Member ratings (6,360)
Terrific second book! I loved reading more about Lucy, Henry and the gang. Something about Lisa Jewell’s writing makes her books easy to read. I’m sad I finished the book but glad the story continued
It had been awhile since I read “The Family Upstairs. Soon after starting Family Remains , all the characters came back into play. One of my favorites authors has done it again. Compelling, exciting !
Love LJ and excited for a sequel to Family Upstairs. Wasn’t as good as the first, but still enjoyed it. The story takes a major pivot at the end compared to what you think throughout the whole book.
I had to go back and re-read The Family Upstairs to refresh myself on the characters, but I’m glad I did! I forgot how great of a read it was, and this continuation of the story didn’t disappoint.
The Family Remains takes place 30 years after The Family Upstairs! Lisa Jewell hits a home run with this sequel which I enjoyed more than the first book. Convoluted but a fun mystery with old friends.