He Started It by Samantha Downing

To say a book has a twist is sometimes a spoiler: you’ll find yourself living in a constant state of suspense, waiting for when it’ll happen. I don’t think saying that He Started It has twists is any kind of spoiler, because, dear reader, this book is absolutely packed with them. Every chapter ends with a new shock. Surprises come out of every corner. And I loved it.

Beth is on a road trip with her siblings, Portia and Eddie, and her grandfather. It’s not the first time they’ve been on this road trip, but this time they’re twenty years older, and their grandfather is in an urn. The end point is scattering his ashes at the trip’s final destination. It’s what’s in between that’s going to be hard. Two weeks of travel with two siblings, two extra spouses, and two decades worth of suspicion and memories everyone has tried to forget. But somebody hasn’t – there’s a car following them. Strange things are appearing, disappearing. And the question of who the hero is in this situation has an answer that becomes blurrier with every page.

Samantha Downing is a riveting writer. The slow unpeeling of each layer of the family’s past is like a luxurious dinner, delicious and thrilling. It’s a love letter to both psychological thrillers and the winding roads of the United States and the bizarre roadside attractions you can find along the way. It’s as tangled as most family relationships and as dark as a cold heart. Fasten your seatbelt – and don’t let anything out of your sight.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at Fiona The Hardy.