Lisa Jewell's "The Family Remains" (Atria, 384 pp., ★★★½ out of four) does double duty – it's not just a satisfying sequel to the author's bestselling 2019 novel "The Family Upstairs," but a solid stand-alone tale of mystery and suspense.
In "The Family Upstairs," Jewell introduced us to Libby Jones, a woman who inherits a home worth millions of dollars in the fashionable Chelsea neighborhood of London. Along the way, she discovers the Lamb family. Through multiple narratives, Jewell thrilled readers with a suspenseful tale in which each character is as intriguing and inventive as Libby, so much so that the ending left readers and the author alike wanting to know more about the future of the Lamb family.
'The Family Upstairs': Lisa Jewell's suspenseful new novel keeps readers guessing
In "The Family Remains," that is exactly what readers get – more. More storylines, more characters and more suspense.
The novel opens in 2019, when a bag of human remains is fished out of the muddy banks of the Thames by a mud-larking guide. Detective Inspector Samuel Owusu goes to investigate. Whose bones are they? How long have they been there?
Then readers are taken back to 2018 London, where Rachel Rimmer is awoken by a phone call from the French Police informing her that her husband, Michael, was found murdered in France, dead from a stab wound.
And then we're taken back to 2019 again, where we meet up again with Henry Lamb. Henry lives with his sister Lucy and her children in London in his immaculate and expensively renovated flat. For now. It is time for Lucy and her family to go out on their own, and time for Henry to reunite with his childhood friend Finn Thomson.
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What do these three apparently separate stories have to do with one another? More than you think. Flitting back between 2018 and 2019, Jewell once again manages to command the reader's attention with each storyline, each a page-turner.
The novel flows seamlessly from its prequel but can be read as a stand-alone. Jewell provides just enough background so as not to cheat the reader of important information. The page-turner will sate fans and win over new readers alike.
And if readers' reactions to "The Family Remains" is anything like "The Family Upstairs," Jewell may have an intriguing series on her hands.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'The Family Remains': Lisa Jewell's latest thrills with murder, mayhem