The characters are clear and complex, revealing layers instead of slipping into satire. Jenna is both the most and the least appealing (in other words, relatable) as she tries to keep her family together without killing them. Readers who like sharply observed novels of families falling apart in paradise, like Emma Straub’s The Vacationers (2014), will want to try Reinhardt’s first novel for adults.
Dana Reinhardt’s adult debut (she’s also the author of several young adult novels) is breezy and entertaining, the kind of book designed to be enjoyed while lounging poolside on your own dream vacation. But it’s a beach read with a flinty core. Look past the endless margaritas and swaying palm trees, and you have the story of a middle-aged woman coming to terms with the life she’s built for herself. It’s a testament to Reinhardt’s skill as a writer that she turns her cast of potentially unlikable characters into people we care about ... That the very real problem of drug-related crime in Mexico is positioned mostly as an inconvenience that disrupts the vacation of these privileged Americans is one of the less appealing aspects of the book.
Reinhardt deftly manipulates the villa in paradise into a gothic labyrinth, and Jenna’s curiosity propels her into secrets perhaps best left alone ... A tense mystery driven by maternal and wifely anxieties.