Australian author, Sally Hepworth, got the idea for her latest novel when her real-life mother-in-law was living with her for six weeks. Hepworth swears that it’s a complete coincidence that the book is a murder mystery with the mother-in-law as the victim.
(We’ll take her word for that, shall we?)
It’s not your average whodunnit, however.
This story flashes backward and forward in time and is told from two points of view; the mother-in-law (Diana) and the daughter-in-law (Lucy). We’re used to seeing these kinds of stories told from the perspective of the investigator, whether it’s a professional detective or amateur sleuth. Not this time. Here, we’re seeing it from the victim’s and suspect’s POV and that adds a pretty interesting dimension.
We’re still very much focused on the crime and who the murderer is but we also get to discover the relationship between these two women. It’s this emphasis on the relationship, and the characters really getting to know and understand one another, that leads people to categorize The Mother-In-Law as women’s fiction rather than crime fiction.
Murder mysteries require a dead body, obviously. Nonetheless, authors don’t usually spend much time developing the personality of the victim beyond a few facts pertinent to the crime.
Hepworth’s approach, to make the victim one of the point of view characters, means that the crime is much more emotional. By the end of the novel, we feel the loss that Diana’s family is feeling—and that’s not something you’ll find in a typical police procedural.
But all this lovely literary stuff aside, the key takeaway here is this: if you know a writer and you piss her off, she’ll kill you in her novel. 🙂
Available in print, digital and audio versions. Visit your local library or click here to buy the ebook. If your library doesn’t carry this book, ask them to order it.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again … a narrator can make or break a novel. Luckily for Sally Hepworth, St Martin’s Press chose the multi-talented Barrie Kreinik to narrate The Mother-in-Law. I think Kreinik is Canadian, but her Aussie accent will blow your mind. Check out her website for audio samples of the other novels she narrates.