Samantha Downing has knocked it out of the park again with this twisting, whip-smart tale of three messed up siblings trying to secure an inheritance. Enforced family togetherness is always a recipe for drama, and Ms. Downing embroiders upon the premise of the road trip from hell to tell a really clever, expertly crafted tale of deeply flawed family dynamics that are several levels more complex—though, occasionally, just as petty—as the accusatory phrase that makes up the book’s title ... a very human, very sympathetic look at problems that are common to most families, with the unusual complication of sheer sociopathy exacerbating otherwise run-of-the-mill situations ... Ms. Downing turns her critical eye on the kind of society that enables abusive behavior even as it pretends to care about fairness and justice. He Started It is an indictment of patriarchy from its very first pages, even if the p-word hardly ever shows up in print. From Beth’s first declarations, quoted below, to the stunning ending that had me shrieking with consternation, this book stands up for women and their stories ... Ms. Downing’s talent as a thriller writer continues to dazzle even as she carves out a name for herself as a literary thinker to watch and admire.
... a thrill-ride that you will be unable to put down ... The twists and turns, revelations and backstories, dark humour and suspense never stop. Siblings Eddie, Beth, and Portia have their entire dysfunctional lives on display throughout this long road trip, and it will be difficult for most readers to find anyone they can consistently call ‘likeable’. (For readers that are not concerned with likeability, you are in for a big treat!) While I would never want to be on this road trip, being able to comfortably sit back and read about it is an absolute joy! This clever tale of greed, betrayal, and family is edgy and entertaining from start to finish. It is a pure fun, escape-from-the-world type of book, but with lots of sneaky little details and an interesting way of telling an outlandish tale.
From chapter to chapter, the foreshadowing in Samantha Downing’sHe Started It heaps on relentless suspense. The surprises come one after another after another, building mystery upon mystery, right up to the end, which is…well, you decide.
With our need to know ramped up through a series of teasers offering more to come, this tale is virtually impossible to put down ... It is difficult to relate more without endangering an immersive, albeit chillingly dark, reading experience or spoiling the shocking conclusion. Suffice to say that the family’s obsession with the game of Risk has conditioned each of them to betray one another as easily as they once conquered continents on the game board.
... [a] sharp psychological thriller ... Downing subtly ratchets up the tension while perfectly capturing the complex dynamics between the siblings, including all the little betrayals and slights and plenty of old wounds left to fester over the years. The droll, slyly funny Beth is a captivating (unreliable?) narrator, and the parallels that she draws between the past and present make for compelling reading, as do their visits to out-of-the way tourist traps, all of which take on a sort of dark meaning. Will everyone make it to the end? Readers will be turning the pages to find out. Buckle up and settle in for one diabolically fun road trip.
Beth Morgan’s wryly humorous narration belies the high-stakes skullduggery that awaits her and her two estranged adult siblings on the cross-country road trip they’re forced into taking with their grandfather’s ashes in order to claim slices of his fortune, in this deliciously devious psycho thriller from Downing ... The journey ends in a shocking, if head-spinning, showdown in the Nevada desert. Those with a taste for suspense with a wicked kick will be rewarded.