When we first meet Grace she tells us she is incarcerated for murder, but claims her innocence. However, she then expresses frustration about the fact she has been imprisoned for a crime she did not commit when she has actually been responsible for the murders of six of her family. From that statement, I was drawn in. What was this character, and what on earth were we going to learn?
What we quickly discover is that Grace is the product of an affair between a very wealthy English businessman and a young Frenchwoman. She has never met her father and when her mother dies, Grace is determined that the man who denied her existence will be made to pay for his rejection. So, she comes up with a plan to kill off each member of his immediate family and then reveal her identity before killing him.
While her logic might be more than a little skewed (ie. totally deranged), the black humour with which she sets about her task is mesmerising. I found myself repulsed by her behaviour while highly amused by her wry comments on society and the people she is targeting. I’m not sure what that says about me!
The book itself is structured rather repetitively as we learn about each of the murders. Grace, though in prison (which means this does not seem like the most sensible of moves), is writing her memoirs, determined that one day people will give her credit for her actions. This need for affirmation places her, for me, very firmly in the sociopath category…but she is thwarted by a mix of bad luck and other characters.
Her plan for the destruction of the family of Simon Artemis comes under threat when her best friend’s fiancé falls off a balcony and dies. Grace is charged with the murder, though she was in no way responsible. Eventually, Grace is released and is free to continue her plans. Unfortunately, while she is deciding on her next course of action her father dies. Grace has no part in this…or does she?
As we neared the end of the book I found myself wondering quite how events would be wrapped up. Would Grace finally admit her identity and get her inheritance? That was the plan. Her plans are thwarted, however, by a character that we learn about very late on – yet who is integral to events. While this made me a little more sympathetic to Grace, it also frustrated me.
How to Kill Your Family is definitely a book I’d recommend to others, and I loved the narrator for Grace in the audiobook version I was lucky enough to be granted access to via NetGalley.