I bought this novel a while ago as Bella Mackie was due to appear at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. Unfortunately she was ill at the time, so it ended up at the bottom of my book pile until recently.
How to kill your family is the debut crime fiction novel from Bella. It introduces us to Grace. Grace is in prison for a murder she didn’t committee, however there is the matter of a few murders she did commit but just hasn’t been caught for. When Grace found out that her absentee father was rich and had refused to acknowledge her Mother she decided to make him pay by killing off members of his family.
How to kill your family was an at time hilarious, at times dark read, that I thoroughly enjoyed. The premise of the book was relatively simple – a wronged woman taking revenge, but there was much more to it than that. We find out about Grace’s real crimes through her diary which she starts in prison (lets skip the probably not sensible plan of admitting to things in writing whilst in prison!) and details all the whys and hows of her crimes.
The character of Grace was a bit of a mixed one for me, although there were bits of her I liked, there were also bits that just seemed a bit too needy for someone who had killed 6 people. Her observations on life and the people around her were exactly what so many of us think but don’t want to admit. It reminded me a little of American Psycho but with a more likeable protagonist. There was a lot of rambling about the state of the world and the varying groups that Grace didn’t like (think everyone but her!) but these observations were often funny and very sharp. They did occasionally make for some longish chapters but they added to the overall tone of the story.
I loved the way the story went backwards and forwards between the prison and the planning and execution of the killings. Each murder is planned to be a fitting end to the family members life so they are all different and take Grace from a frog conservation pond to Puerto Banus in order to realise her plan.
How to kill your family was a superb novel that I very much enjoyed and I look forward to reading more from Bella Mackie.