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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little (Review & Giveway)

Adult, Murder Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller
Publication.Date  July 31st 2014
Published By:  Viking Adult
AuthorElizabeth Little

Dear Daughter on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I'm not.

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she's been released on a technicality she's determined to unravel the mystery of her mother's last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America's media on her tail, convinced she's literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn't like her mother. Could she have killed her?


Did you know that the more you remember, the more you expand your perception of personal time? No, really. There's, like, studies and shit. Even though we can't outrun death, if we muscle up our memories the race, at least, will seem a little longer. That is, we'll still die, but we'll have lived more. Kind of comforting, right?
Of all the challenges of incarceration, this was perhaps the worst: I was a fundamentally rational creature reduced to rudimentary divination. I promised myself that if I ever got out I'd try to find out what really happened, to find out what I really was. 
It’s hard enough to maintain your innocence when so many people are so sure you’re not. It’s impossible when you’re not sure of anything at all – other than the awful, inescapable fact that you hadn’t particularly liked your own mother.

     Taut, captivating and fresh, Dear Daughter follows the story of Janie Jenkins as she is trying to uncover the truth behind her mother's brutal murder and her last words written in blood. Words that landed Janie in jail for ten long years and have the entire world convinced of her guilt. Janie is out now, released due to mishandling of evidence in her case. And she is determined to get to the bottom of it all. She has a long journey ahead of her, with lots of digging to do, and she will not like what she's about to learn about her mother, her past, and herself. 

     Dear Daughter is all around lean and mean, stylish and deftly written. It's a solid and dramatic thriller for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, strong female characters and sharp dialogues combined with gritty, slower-paced plots. It's a book in which the setting is just as important as the characters, the atmosphere is thick and seductive, and all the dark secrets are buried six feet under and better left undisturbed.

"Twenty-six, fabulously wealthy, and I never even finished high school"

     Janie is quite a fascinating character to follow. Being a celebrity known for wild partying and shocking behavior (just like Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton), she's constantly flocked by paparazzi. Alcohol and drugs make her late-night escapades just a blurry memory in the morning, and she doesn't even remember everything that happened on the night of her mother's death. Truth is, she and her mother did not get along at all, but could she have actually killed her own mother? She doesn't think so, but proving her innocence is a whole different story, especially considering the fact that her name was found written in blood  next to the body. She's been wronged (OK, let's face it, her own mother completely screwed her over, there's no other way of putting this) but she refuses to play the victim, she's bold, often tactless, rude and selfish. Tough and resourceful. Completely unapologetic. She swears a lot, talks back too much for her own good, has spontaneous sexual encounters with randomly picked guys (usually of the not-good-for-you, dangerous kind), and doesn't know when to back down from a fight. Is she brave or just reckless and stupid? I am still trying to decide this. One thing for sure, she is highly entertaining and I had a great time poking around in her head and learning things about her. 

Understand that this is how it works with people like me. Self-pity is the sun around which we orbit, the great gravitational force that rules those of us for whom Things Didn't Quite Turn Out. If we're lucky, purpose (vengeance, absolution, cookies, not in that order) can keep us from falling in, from burning up, but we're fooling ourselves if we ever think we're going to break free.

     The plot line is not a very fast-paced one, though I didn't mind that one bit. The narration style is  extremely addictive - witty, clever, sharp, biting, sometimes genuinely funny, always honest and straight to the point - and it makes up for the lack of exciting twists in the first 3/4 of the story. The twists are there, and they are exciting, but they don't come until the last couple chapters. They're all crammed into the ending of the book. That is, perhaps, why I felt the ending was a bit too rushed and abrupt. And too explosive to be realistic. I also thought it was a bit too neat and too convenient, but I do realize that there are plenty of readers who prefer it that way.

     This was, overall, a really good read. Captivating and intense, it kept me reading long past my bed time. The conclusion to the story was well thought out and, though slightly vague on some details, mostly satisfying. I enjoyed this ride and would recommend this book to mature readers with a soft spot for noir fiction.


Thanks to the wonderful folks at Viking Adult, we have one hardcover copy of Dear Daughter up for grabs today!
Open to US addresses only, no PO Boxes please!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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