Dead Letters

Dead Letters

A Novel

Book - 2017 | First edition.
Average Rating:
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A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel that will keep you guessing until the end--for readers of Gone Girl and The Girl Before .

"Ahoy, Ava! Welcome home, my sweet jet-setting twin! So glad you were able to wrest yourself away from your dazzling life in the City of Light; I hope my 'death' hasn't interrupted anything too crucial."

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls' increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda . Then she receives a cryptic message--from her sister.

Just as Ava suspected, Zelda's playing one of her games. In fact, she's outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda's drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way, Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava's heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving, or to teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Featuring a colorful, raucous cast of characters, Caite Dolan-Leach's debut thriller takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.

New and noteworthy in USA Today !

"Dolan-Leach's clever thriller explores the fraying ties that bind twin sisters. . . . Readers will enjoy this full-bodied novel about a family of vintners." -- The New York Times Book Review

"The disappearance of Ava's wild-child twin is just the beginning of this roller-coaster read that's as enthralling as it is WTF?!" -- Cosmopolitan

"Ava, the star of this atmospheric debut, isn't convinced her calculating twin sister, Zelda, is really dead--especially after she starts getting enigmatic emails from Zelda's account, propelling her on a complicated hunt for the truth." -- Entertainment Weekly ("The Must List")

"We do love a good mystery, and Dolan-Leach's debut novel is a prime example of the form. . . . Dead Letters centers around the most dysfunctional of families, and reading it feels like embarking on a literary scavenger hunt that you never want to end."-- Nylon

"Dolan-Leach's debut reads like an Agatha Christie novel set in a world with internet access. . . . The action unfolds with a kind of playful theatricality and cleverness that is totally and utterly engrossing." -- i-D ( Vice )

"Dolan-Leach nimbly entwines the clever mystery of Agatha Christie, the wit of Dorothy Parker, and the inebriated Gothic of Eugene O'Neill." -- Kirkus Reviews
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780399588853
Branch Call Number: FIC Dolan
Characteristics: 332 pages ; 24 cm

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gogo12127
Jun 28, 2017

A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt.

This was a great read. I decided to read the book after seeing a review in Library Journal, which gave it a starred-review. (Publishers Weekly also gave it a starred-review.) Some have compared the book to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, which I have also read, but I think Dead Letters is much better. I intend to post reviews on Amazon and Google Books, even though I rarely post reviews, no matter how good (or bad) I thought something was. That's how good Dead Letters is, in my opinion. I also intend to email friends with my very strongest recommendation.

w
wyenotgo
Jun 02, 2017

OK, so Ms Dolan-Leach is a very crafty writer; she has concocted a clever book, probably best categorized as an abecedarius (google "constrained writing" if you care about such things). It's a sort-of mystery but I would tend to classify it as a printed soap opera; i.e. somewhat trashy story, very trashy characters who richly deserve all the grief that befalls them. Twin sisters who are amoral, vicious, manipulative alcoholics, as are their parents. You can tell I dislike these people. I don't doubt that many readers will enjoy the book; I found it at times infuriating for the reasons just mentioned. It contains just enough intrigue to have kept me reading though to the end but I found myself skipping along quickly, glossing over a lot of stuff, eager to get it over with.

Mar 27, 2017

Ava Antipova is living in France when she receives word that there has been a fire at her family's winery in upstate New York and her twin sister is missing, presumed dead. Or is she? Ava had moved to France to escape her dysfunctional alcoholic family, leaving her sister to take care of their ill mother. Now, Ava gets led on a scavenger hunt to try to figure out what happened.

The end was a little unsatisfying, but I enjoyed the book overall.

e
emerge
Feb 23, 2017

Just a heads up. I realize marketing depts. try to cast the widest net to gain readers but this is NOT a thriller. It's a well written family saga that looks unsparingly at the effects of alcoholism & extreme disfunction with a little mystery thrown in.

laurabrary Jan 18, 2017

Such a smart and suspenseful book! I felt my heart rate rising with each new clue in Zelda’s game, and between surprising twists, not knowing what those twists meant, and a possibly unreliable narrator (this question kept me on my toes!), I truly did not know what would happen next. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend time in this very dark and dysfunctional world, but the more I got to know the vivid and flawed characters and got into the game, the more I did not want to stop reading. The language is pretty flowery at times, but I enjoyed the verbosity; it felt appropriate for the indulgent and clever twins and I thought it made the book a pleasure to read. I would definitely recommend it to fans of mysteries, literary fiction, or readers looking for something a little unusual, so long as they don’t mind some dysfunction.

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