Skip to main content

Murder in the Family


Murder in the Family

British author Cara Hunter has been an internationally bestselling writer for years, and I have always enjoyed her work. She finally makes her American debut with MURDER IN THE FAMILY. And what a debut it is!

To begin with, I must state that this is far from your traditional mystery novel. It blends both elements of mystery and true crime in a unique storytelling style that consists primarily of newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts and a good deal of coverage from the true crime series “Infamous.”

The case is a really good one and speaks to the amazing popularity of true crime shows these days. In December 2003, Luke Ryder was found brutally murdered in his family garden, his face badly mangled in the process. He was married to a much older woman, Caroline, and was the stepfather to her son, Guy, who was 10 years old at the time of the homicide.

"Hunter has produced a brilliant and memorable work that contains many gift-wrapped surprises for the reader to uncover and decipher from start to finish."

The crime has remained unsolved and is now fodder for “Infamous.” Guy Howard is involved in this project as he has become an acclaimed filmmaker. The trouble is that his mother and two half-sisters claim to have not heard or seen anything on the day his stepfather was killed that would help, which is the main reason why the investigation fizzled out.

Utilizing its varied forms of narrative, MURDER IN THE FAMILY covers all bases of this cold case and breathes new life and interest into it. There is a clipping from a television reporter who likens the case to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and the love the public has always had for locked-room mysteries. The garden where Luke was murdered has become his locked room, and no one has been able to find the key to opening it.

Luke originally came from Australia, and there is much time spent over his upbringing there in the event that it bears any weight on this case. “Infamous” has set out to do a full blitz on the investigation, and that begins with assembling a group of experts to work together in rehashing the old clues and setting them against modern-day forensics. The team consists of a retired police officer, a freelance journalist, an attorney, a forensic and clinical psychologist, a forensic investigator, and a PI/former NYPD detective.

The interplay among these experts is a wonder to behold, and Hunter deftly handles it in such a way that would make any reader believe that she has been working in the television medium for decades. There are plenty of new clues and red herrings that build the suspense in the same manner that a successful episodic series would.

MURDER IN THE FAMILY is at its best when the multiple forms of storytelling trickery open up door after door and dig deeply into a domestic murder tale that will have the hair on your arms standing up at attention. Hunter has produced a brilliant and memorable work that contains many gift-wrapped surprises for the reader to uncover and decipher from start to finish.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on September 29, 2023

Murder in the Family
by Cara Hunter