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He Started It

He Started It, August 2020
by Samantha Downing

Berkley
400 pages
ISBN: 0451491750
EAN: 9780451491756
Kindle: B07XJL1YSM
Hardcover / e-Book
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"If you can’t trust your siblings, who can you really trust?"

Fresh Fiction Review

He Started It
Samantha Downing

Reviewed by Laura Mueller
Posted July 26, 2020

Thriller Psychological | Thriller Serial Killer | Thriller Paranormal - Supernatural

Beth, her older brother, and her younger sister are reliving, in precise detail, the road trip adventure they took with their grandpa twenty years ago.  Their grandpa has recently died, and in order for these three to receive a multi-million dollar inheritance, they must strictly adhere to three rules on their journey:  they can’t end up in jail, they have to complete the trip, and they must recreate the trip precisely as it occurred the first time around.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Not so fast. 

Narrator Beth opens HE STARTED IT by explaining that there are two rules by which a heroine must abide – she can’t be a murderer, and she can’t be a cheater.  By the third paragraph, Beth casually lets us know that she cannot be the heroine of this story.  Throw in a sketchy black truck, two spouses that weren’t even supposed to be on the trip, and calculating sibling dynamics, and you are off to the races (or more accurately, off to the Helen Keller House in Tuscumbia, Alabama).  Okay, Samantha Downing, you’ve got my attention! 

If you’re looking to take a vacation during your staycation, this is the book for you.  Downing perfectly counterbalances mystery, suspense, and conniving with colorful descriptions of genuine, off-beat tourist attractions throughout the United States.  Avid thriller readers will appreciate Downing’s pace (there is truly never a dull moment), unpredictability (is anyone ever telling the truth?), and likening of the sibling dynamics on this trip to classic strategy and alliance game Risk (after all, who doesn’t enjoy a good secret mission?).  In a work where no one can be trusted, it is delightful to organically watch the story unfold as Beth’s trust and confidence in the reader grows.    

However, it can be a bit jarring when Beth occasionally reminds the reader that she is narrating.  These bits of dialogue interrupt the story’s flow and seem unnecessary in an otherwise flawlessly-written tale.  Those that followed the Enron scandal of the early 2000s may also find the reference to “Jeff Skilling” unintentionally distracting.  If you like a neat, tidy conclusion, you may be frustrated to realize that there are also a couple of key storylines that remain loose ends with unanswered questions at the story’s end. 

As HE STARTED IT will definitely leave you with a love-or-hate reaction once you finish reading it, Downing’s latest is ideal to read with others.  You’ll have an undoubtedly lively abundance of conversation, debate, and reflection on not only Beth’s crew but also your own sibling dynamics and road trips growing up!

Learn more about He Started It

SUMMARY

From the twisted mind behind mega hit My Lovely Wife comes the story of a family—not unlike your own—just with a few more violent tendencies thrown in....

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven't all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we'll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It's even harder when you're all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory, a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won't stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there's a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.


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