Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Publishing Date March 14,2017

The lowdown from Goodreads

A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel of suspense for readers of Luckiest Girl Alive and Reconstructing Amelia.
Ahoy, Ava! Welcome home, my sweet jet-setting twin! So glad you were able to wrest yourself away from your dazzling life in the City of Light; I hope my death hasn’t interrupted anything too crucial. 

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message from her sister.

Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way, Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava s heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Featuring a colorful, raucous cast of characters, Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut thriller takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family. 

As an only child, I can only imagine the connection one must feel towards his or her identical twin. This novel really takes that relationship to another level. Ava returns to her troubled family after escaping to Paris for the last several years. Disconnected, she tries to piece together what happened when her twin sister, Zelda, is nowhere to be found & presumed dead from a fire on their property. Ava arrives to survey the damage & trace her sister’s last steps & there are so many questions. Did someone kill Zelda? Is Zelda still alive & faking her death? What exactly was Zelda up to before she died? Who is communicating with Ava? Is it Zelda or someone pretending to be her? Ava discovers there are unpaid debts, love triangles, seedy characters, divorced parents coming together to mourn, a failing family business, illness & hidden family secrets. Caite does a wonderful job highlighting the twin connection as Ava works through clues left behind by Zelda. This novel left me guessing, questioning & often surprised, so the author succeeded in painting a wonderfully crafted mystery.

Special thanks to Caite Dolan-Leach, Random House & NetGalley for providing my copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.

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