The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

This was very good until toward the end when the resolution to one “mystery” seemed to be clear and obvious,  but presented another issue. There was a slight lapse in suspense (for me anyway) during that time, but it only lasted a couple relatively short chapters.   

The Mother-in-Law
by Sally Hepworth
2020 (352 pages)
Read by Barrie Kreinik- 9h 12m
Rating: B+ / mystery 

The narrative involves alternating first person narratives which also change time frame – past and present –  leading up to Diana’s death and then the aftermath.  It’s interesting and different reading the point of view of the victim.
The eponymous mother-in-law, Diana,  is a formidable woman, quite rich, dominating and opinionated. Her husband seems to be the opposite, easy going and lovable, a very good provider and family man.  After Tom dies, Diana is depressed and then she’s dead with a bottle of Latubin next to her and a suicide note in a drawer.  
The suspects – their son, Ollie,  married a very nice woman named Lucy who has no immediate family living.  (So Diana is Lucy’s mother-in-law and the two have a somewhat complicated relationship.  Lucy and Ollie have three children and a nice life until there are money troubles.  Diana’s  daughter Nettie and husband Patrick also have a very nice life, but Nettie’s  suffering involves her inability to bear children. This consumes her until her last hope is to get enough money to cover the costs of getting a surrogate.    

But Diana was grieving her husband’s death – was this possibly a suicide?  
As it turns out there are plenty of twists to the plot, the character development of Diana and Lucy, both sympathetic characters in themselves, is excellent.  The writing is so-so.  The suspense is professionally developed and the ending is satisfactory.  great. 

Fwiw, Hepworth is an established fiction writer, but this is her 1st mystery and the “relationships” aspect is sometimes overpowers the mystery genre. It’s okay.

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4 Responses to The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I’ve read three of Hepworth’s books (see — she’s a kind of Australian Jodi Piccoult with a suburban flavour. But I felt that this one was a bit formulaic, as if the structure was driving plot twists rather than the narrative having an impetus of its own.
    Still, it’s enjoyable light reading…and book groups probably love all the issues it raises.


    • I doubt I’ll read another by Hepworth- I’ve never even read one of Piccoult’s books. In the end I enjoyed it well enough to give it a B+ because the whole thing was rather clever and original. I see the connection to Piccoult in that there is a serious contemporary moral dilemma presented. I still don;’t think I’ll read another.


      • Lisa Hill says:

        Well, I wouldn’t either, but I did think that The Things We Keep was a good insight into early-onset Alzheimer’s. And the fact that it’s popular fiction is a good thing, because people need to know more about that IMO so that they are more understanding to people who have it, and their families.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Things We Keep, huh? Maybe I could try that one because that interest me. (My mom is 96- no Alzheimer’s but she does get forgetful sometimes if she hasn’t had enough rest (and she tires easily!) . My Dad’s sister had Alzheimer’s – another aunt had some kind of dementia. Thanks!


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