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June 13, 2017

Intricately Plotted - Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

by MK French

Ava returns home to upstate New York when she hears of her twin sister Zelda's death. She can't believe that it happened, especially when she finds her sister's burner phone and gets a number of e-mails through it. This leads her on a scavenger hunt through the alphabet, figuring out what happened to her sister, and facing her family and the people she had left behind.  The entire Antipova family is dysfunctional, but Ava is drawn into Zelda's game, determined to make it through from A to Z and discover what had happened to Zelda.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free ARC was provided for an honest review.
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach
February 21, 2017; Random House; 9780399588853
ebook, audio, print (352 pages); suspense

I find it hard to believe that Dead Letters is the first novel for Caite Dolan-Leach. It's intricately plotted with very believable and finely detailed characters. They're not always likable and are very achingly human.

Ava has moments where she is horrible to people around her, but at other times she can be very loving and thoughtful. She's fallen under her twin's spell, and as a result, we do, too.

Zelda is a fascinating character, and discovering her machinations in the two or so years Ava was away brings the sensation of watching a human train wreck.

The relationships are at the center of this novel, between the twins, with their mother, their father, their grandfather and the people in the town. We see glimpses of happier times, but simmering beneath the surface is the dysfunction that comes with pills or alcohol.

It's a roller coaster ride, and I was drawn into Ava's world and rooting for her to find out the truth. Z was very surprising, and I think I was just as much in shock as Ava was. There are hints at more of Zelda's plan that Ava never discovered, and Ava was so caught up in the alphabet scavenger hunt that she also didn't look for other explanations.

I enjoyed the book, even with the unpleasant moments, because I simply had to know what happened next. I look forward to more books by this author.

Buy Dead Letter at Amazon


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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