The Family Plot by Megan Collins is the story of a unique family obsessed with true crime. Think of the Lighthouse family as a blend of the Blackwoods from Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, the Addams Family, and whatever documentary show is on the Investigation Discovery channel this evening – this will give you an idea of how quirky, moody, and unusual each member of this family truly is.
The Lighthouse parents raised their four children on a home-schooling curriculum devoted to the study of true crime cases and anniversary “celebrations” of the lives that were lost. Dahlia Lighthouse – yes, she was named after the infamous Black Dahlia case – has been away from the family for years, unable to deal with the mysterious disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, years earlier. Forced to return for her father’s funeral, Dahlia is beyond apprehensive, but things take a drastic turn when Andy’s body is found already occupying their father’s grave, dead from an ax blow to the head.
Dahlia wants to place the blame for the death on the sinister serial killer who has preyed on her community for decades, but the longer she stays in the family’s isolated and foreboding mansion, the more questions that arise. And with those questions come the revelations about various secrets and lies from the past.
True crime fanatics will find much to love within the pages of The Family Plot. Megan Collins cleverly drops references to actual crimes in every chapter. While one child mourns the loss of her twin brother, her other brother sets out to open a murder museum using their family and the artifacts they have amassed as a draw, her sister spends every waking moment creating miniature dioramas of famous crime scenes, and her mother bakes cookies…badly.
While all of this sounds grim and depressing, Megan Collins has a way of luring the reader in with evocative prose and enough quirky humor to offset the creepy vibe…but rest assured, this remains a chilling read of gothic suspense. Collins has crafted a modern satire that skewers – among other things – society’s obsession with violent death. The ending is both unexpected and unavoidable in equal measures, leaving the reader with much to contemplate.
Megan Collins’ crime fiction output so far marks her as an author willing to take chances – each new novel contains a compelling plot concept which she then populates with unforgettable characters and redolent settings. There is no telling what will be next, but there will be no shortage of fans waiting anxiously to discover what suspenseful journey Megan Collins will take us on next.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.