top of page

Shari Lapena's NOT A HAPPY FAMILY - A Page-Turning Domestic Suspense Novel

Book cover of Shari Lapena's Not a Happy Family

by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)

If you don’t mind a book filled with a whole lot of unlikable characters, this is the book for you. It is full of suspense, and twists and turns. Not a Happy Family (Amazon | is an excellent October read.

The Merton family is a wealthy, well-known family in Breckin Hill, an exclusive, expensive neighborhood in upstate New York. Fred Merton, the patriarch of the family, has just sold his wildly successful robotics company and he and his wife, Sheila are now even wealthier.

As the novel starts, Fred and Sheila are hosting their three children, Jenna, Dan, and Catherine Easter Sunday dinner. Dan, the Merton’s only son, is still reeling from his father selling the robotics company out from under him six months prior. Jenna, the rebellious younger daughter, has a chip on her shoulder and is in danger of losing the allowance her parents give her as she tries to build a career as an artist. Catherine, the eldest daughter and the favorite, is a successful dermatologist and the only one happy to be at the Merton home for Easter dinner, until Fred Merton announces that he and Sheila will be selling the family home and downsizing. This ignites a family argument that ends in all the children and their housekeeper leaving before dinner even begins.

Flash forward to two days later, and Fred and Sheila Merton are found brutally murdered in their home. Who did it? That is what this story is all about, and it is a wild ride.

This domestic thriller is a well-paced page turner. I enjoyed it; however, as stated at the beginning of this review, if you need a character to root for in a book--this is not the book for you. Most of the characters are very unlikable and unrelatable. Many of them come from a lot of privilege, and they play into the stereotypes of the rich and privileged. In addition, if you need all loose ends tied up at the end, this might not be the one for you. I don't mind loose ends, so that element of the story didn't bother me; however, I know some readers really don't like that narrative choice.

I really enjoy mood reading, and in October, I like to read thrillers and spooky reads. This one wasn’t spooky, but it was very suspenseful and at times grisly. It was a solid fall read for me!

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

Loving what you see here? Please comment below (scroll ALL the way down to comment), share this post using the social media buttons below (scroll down for those as well!), and find us on social media to share your thoughts!


Want to support Unabridged?

Check out our Merch Store!

Become a patron on Patreon.​

Follow us @unabridgedpod on Instagram.

Like and follow our Facebook Page.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Follow us @unabridgedpod on Twitter.

Subscribe to our podcast and rate us on Apple Podcasts or on Stitcher.

Check us out on Podbean.


Please note that we a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We also are proud to partner with and have a curated Unabridged store as well as affiliate links.

12 views0 comments


bottom of page