Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Dear Daughter

Summary: Former “It Girl” Janie Jenkins is sly, stunning, and fresh out of prison. Ten years ago, at the height of her fame, she was incarcerated for the murder of her mother, a high-society beauty known for her good works and rich husbands. Now, released on a technicality, Janie makes herself over and goes undercover, determined to chase down the one lead she has on her mother’s killer. The only problem? Janie doesn’t know if she’s the killer she’s looking for.

Janie makes her way to an isolated South Dakota town whose mysteries rival her own. Enlisting the help of some new friends (and the town’s wary police chief), Janie follows a series of clues—an old photograph, an abandoned house, a forgotten diary—and begins to piece together her mother’s seemingly improbable connection to the town. When new evidence from Janie’s own past surfaces, she’s forced to consider the possibility that she and her mother were more alike than either of them would ever have imagined.

As she digs tantalizingly deeper, and as suspicious locals begin to see through her increasingly fragile facade, Janie discovers that even the sleepiest towns hide sinister secrets—and will stop at nothing to guard them. On the run from the press, the police, and maybe even a murderer, Janie must choose between the anonymity she craves and the truth she so desperately needs.

A gripping, electrifying debut novel with an ingenious and like-it-or-not sexy protagonist, Dear Daughter follows every twist and turn as Janie unravels the mystery of what happened the night her mother died—whatever the cost. -- Viking

When I picked up DEAR DAUGHTER by Elizabeth Little, the first thing I noticed was the quotation from Tana French on the ARC cover -- "This is an all-nighter... the best debut mystery I've read in a long time." Need I say more? When Ms. French recommends a book, I'd be crazy not to read it.

DEAR DAUGHTER tells the story of Janie Jenkins, a celebrity who was famous just for being rich and pretty. For the past 10 years, she has been in jail for murdering her high-society mother; however, she was released on a technicality. Janie is determined to figure out what happened to her mother... even if that means discovering that she is indeed the murderer.

Janie had to hide from the media so she goes undercover and travels to a small town in South Dakota.  With the help of some new friends and even the police chief, she begins to discover some clues. These clues help her connect her mother to the strange town which has its fair share of secrets. However, Janie doesn't have much time to figure things out because the press (and maybe even a murderer) are fast on her tracks.

DEAR DAUGHTER is a very entertaining story -- both funny and dark, and I found the mystery to be a good one. Janie is a fantastic character and one I won't soon forget. Janie's character definitely showcased the obsession we have with fame and celebrities in today's society -- think the Kardashians; and I was intrigued by her character. It was ironic that even though I didn't like her for much of the novel (she wasn't exactly a nice person), I still was drawn to her -- much like my personal interest in celebrities!

I appreciated the mystery aspect of this novel, but I don't know if I'd say it was the strongest element of the book. Having said that, I did enjoy it and I liked the many twists and turns; and there were times when I thought Janie was responsible and others when I was certain she couldn't have done it. What really stood out to me, though, was the author's writing. It was really good!

I was actually surprised to learn that DEAR DAUGHTER is Ms. Little's first novel. It's quite a start and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future. I read a fair amount of mysteries, and I loved how unique this novel was. Not only was Janie a fantastic character, but I loved her sarcastic voice. It made the novel so "fun" with her irreverent comments and her have-no-fear mentality.

Despite dealing with some serious issues (heck -- a woman was brutally murdered), the book had light moments; and it was a perfect (end-of-the) summer read. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I love it when an author uses humor to break the tension. This sounds really good!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Ohh.. sounds good!

Beth Hoffman said...

I think I'd like this book and will add it to my list right now. Thanks, Julie!