Title: The Family Tree
Author: Steph Mullin & Nicole Mabry
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 10th 2021
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: May 19th 2021
Pages: 400

“They were like a sisterhood, this group of stolen girls. Dead but not forgotten.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Avon in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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It’s no secret that I have a weak spot for thrillers with a serial killer angle, so as soon as I read the blurb of The Family Tree I knew I had to read it. The premise of this story is fantastic: imagine yourself doing an ancestry kit, only for the results to come back to tell you that you are not only adopted, but also related to a serial killer… Talk about an explosive stepping stone to build your thriller on! And I most definitely liked the story this author duo created for us.

The first thing that probably stands out is the structure of the plot. The story starts with a bang when we get a glimpse inside the head of the serial killer, and afterwards we switch between main character Liz Catalano and the POV of the numerous victims of the Tri-State Killer to show us how the serial killer takes and treats his victims. I found those chapters particularly fascinating and they were without doubt what made this story stand out for me. They were perfect to both get a glimpse inside the head of our killer and useful to give us little hints as to his identity… And they added a healthy dose of tension too.

The chapters from Liz’ POV were likewise interesting, although she could get on my nerves and some of her actions were not that credible. I still like the idea behind her background and how she deals with suddenly realizing she is adopted and having a serial killer in her biological family to boot. I do like that she is nosy and wants to discover all there is about her biological family. BUT. The repetition of her feeling betrayed and her stubbornness to keep investigating and putting herself in danger even if the FBI warned her off? And her potentially harming the case against the killer by obstructing justice as well as possibly alterating evidence? Quite frustrating indeed. There was just something about her personality that didn’t work that well for me, but I do get why she was written this way.

The writing itself is engaging and made it really hard to put down my kindle until I reached that final page. While I do have to say that I guessed the identity of the killer right, I didn’t see that ending coming at all. It does seem doubtful that the FBI would leave the investigation without tying up the loose ends though… But as a whole, there is no doubt that The Family Tree both starts and ends with a bang.

In short, if you are looking for an engaging and suspenseful thriller with a serial killer angle, and like the sound of hearing the POV of the victims as well as an unofficial investigation into the killer’s identity, The Family Tree is a great choice.


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