Collins is a master at building suspense and immersing the Lighthouse family and their island in a dark fog of disquiet. She wraps her story in a gripping narrative embellished with vivid metaphors ... Even when the secret of the killer is revealed, Collins has more in store.
Colllins' talent to make prose moody and atmospheric is masterful. Even while reading with all the lights on, one still feels alone and on edge with a sense of foreboding. The author's skillful ability to misdirect the reader to the point that everyone appears guilty is impressive. The author plays with the reader. At times the novel boils over with suspense, and at other times it is a slow simmer, moving creepily along. On the whole, The Family Plot is a steady and satisfying hunt for a killer that true-crime enthusiasts and thriller fans can both savor.
... the story is intriguing, and Collins plumbs the depths of human depravity as we learn more about what really occurred when the Lighthouse siblings were younger. Who is the killer? The author provides many clues and red herrings, but when we finally learn the truth, it's not a complete surprise. Still, there are plenty of truths to be discovered here, and some of them will be shocking and heartbreaking ... The Family Plot will draw you into what seems like a spider's web of death, and instead of trying to break free of this insidious lair, you will follow each silken thread as each path leads to one devastating truth after another until we see what is at the center of the trap—because some members of the Lighthouse family were truly trapped in that web and could see no way out. You will be tempted to read the book twice to see what you missed the first time. The clues were there, but the answers lay frustratingly out of reach.
While the writing and pacing are spot on, Collins's story lacks adequate buildup and character development. The true crime connection never quite catches on and feels superfluous, and the constant red herrings and wild goose chase for multiple killers fail to bring about the intended shock factor at the climax of the book. The resolution is just as unbelievable as the rest of the story ... Diehard mystery/thriller fans may be disappointed, and true crime fans will be confused as to why they were led here.