Cover Image: Unnatural Ends

Unnatural Ends

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was an intense historic mystery novel. I found the twists and breadcrumbs leading to the truth intriguing. This was an enjoyable read.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this eARC.

In the mist-shrouded moors of 1920s England, Unnatural Ends unfurls its intricate tapestry of mystery. Christopher Huang, a master weaver of suspense, invites readers to step into the dimly lit corridors of Linwood Hollow—a place where secrets fester like ancient wounds.

Sir Lawrence Linwood, patriarch of the Linwood estate, lies dead—brutally murdered with a medieval mace. His three adopted children—Alan, the archeologist; Roger, the engineer; and Caroline, the journalist—return home for the funeral. But this is no ordinary inheritance. Sir Lawrence's last testament reveals a cryptic proviso: The heir who unravels his murder shall inherit the estate.

Huang's characters are like shards of stained glass, each reflecting a different hue of guilt, ambition, and vulnerability. Alan, haunted by buried memories; Roger, with a mind as precise as his engineering blueprints; and Caroline, whose pen wields both truth and deception. Even the most unlikable characters are rendered with depth, their shadows dancing on the walls of Linwood Manor.

The moors breathe—an eerie exhalation that clings to your skin. Huang's prose paints the landscape with strokes of fog and whispers of secrets. The churchless town of Linwood Hollow harbors peculiar strangers, and every creaking floorboard seems to echo the past. As the siblings dig into their father's murder, they unearth not only bones but the tangled roots of their own existence.

Unnatural Ends transcends mere whodunit. It's a mirror held up to postwar England, reflecting scars that run deeper than flesh. Huang deftly explores identity, family bonds, and the sins that echo across generations. Beneath the murder mystery lies a Gordian knot of societal unraveling—a critique of a world still reeling from war.

Christopher Huang's sophomore novel is a symphony of shadows—a haunting melody that lingers long after the final page. If Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier conspired to write a murder mystery, it would bear the name "Unnatural Ends" . Prepare to lose yourself in its labyrinthine corridors, where every twist reveals another layer of darkness.

Unnatural Ends is more than a puzzle; it's a journey into the heart of human frailty. Huang beckons us to tread carefully, for the answers lie not only in the mace-scarred study but within ourselves.

Unnatural Ends is a gem hidden in the fog, waiting for curious souls to unravel its secrets. Whether you're a seasoned detective or a first-time sleuth, this novel will ensnare you. Dive in, dear reader, and let the moors whisper their truths.

Was this review helpful?

This historical mystery was not the book for me. I’ve tried multiple times to read it, but I cannot get invested in the story. I’m DNFing at 10%. I think these types of murder mysteries just don’t work for me.

Was this review helpful?

I would like to thank NetGalley and Inkshares for providing me with an advance e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Look for it now in your local and online bookstores and libraries.

Was this review helpful?

This is a unique one in the realm of suspense. Set in the North Yorkshire moors in 1921, Sir Lawrence Linwood is murdered, and the provisions of his will stipulate that his estate will go to the heir who solves his murder. The three grown children then begin delving into the secrets of the past, which reveal much more than they anticipated. Definitely a unique spin on a murder-mystery. At times it seemed a bit redundant for repeated descriptions of locations, and the investigative skills of the children leave something to be desired, however, I did enjoy it for the most part. Thank you so much to Christopher Huang, the publisher, and NeGalley for the opportunity to review this e-arc.

Was this review helpful?

Nestled atop a cliff, Linwood Hall commands a view of the Yorkshire moors on one side and Linwood Hollow village on the other. The year is 1921, spring, and the somber occasion of the patriarch's burial looms over the estate. With their father's passing, the three adopted adult children return home, only to face a startling revelation: Linwood Hall, a legacy spanning generations, is to be sold, its proceeds divided equally among them. However, a twist emerges from the will—if their father's demise was not natural, the entire estate goes to the one who uncovers the truth. Thus begins a probing investigation into the dark secrets harbored within the Linwood family.
While the narrative unfolds as a mystery, it transcends mere suspense, delving deeply into the psychological dynamics of a fractured family. Themes of adoption, resilience in the face of adversity, sibling bonds, and marital discord are meticulously explored. In a genre saturated with formulaic domestic thrillers, this novel offers a refreshing perspective. Its atmospheric settings—alternating between the eerie estate amidst the moors and the rain-drenched streets of London—add to its allure, immersing readers in the depths of human motivation and action.
Though the prose is engaging and the pacing well-crafted, some readers may find the book's length excessive. Nevertheless, for those seeking a departure from conventional genre fare, this novel comes as a welcome surprise. It breathes new life into a genre perceived by some as past its prime. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone yearning for a compelling and nuanced narrative.

Was this review helpful?

Mystery books are often compared to Agatha Christie, but Christopher Huang's new book, Unnatural Ends, truly does give homage to Christie's style of writing.

This book will be a favorite of those who enjoy dysfunctional families with secrets mixed in with a murder mystery. Each chapter is told from a different POV, all revolving around a father's murder as his family tries to determine what happened to him.

Lots of red herrings, great suspenseful build-up, and plenty of twists make this an excellent mystery read.

Was this review helpful?

Unnatural Ends is a brutal murder mystery in Linwood Hollow, England, in the 1920’s by Christopher Huang. Sir Linwood’s three surviving adopted adult children return home to attend their father’s funeral. At the reading of his will, things take a turn due to Sir Linwood’s estate going to whichever child solves his murder. If they cannot solve the murder, the estate will be sold, and proceeds will be shared equally with them.

In their journey to unravel the mysterious murder, the adopted siblings stumble upon family secrets and uncover potential suspects. As the plot progresses, they begin to question whether the murder is linked to their births. With several unexpected twists and turns, the siblings face the daunting task of saving their family estate. However, their success is far from certain, and they risk losing everything if they fail. This book is quite long, with 450 printed pages. The first half could have been faster and less drawn out. The second half, especially the ending, left me feeling unsatisfied.

I would recommend this book because it is a great mystery. Although it took me some time to get used to the time jumps and multiple viewpoints, Huang did an excellent job keeping me engaged and focused on identifying the shifts in the chapter titles.

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with a complementary electronic copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you, NetGalley, for an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest & unbiased review!

Quick summary: "Unnatural Ends" is a murder mystery set in the 1920s in England. The book's events kick off with the murder of Sir Lawrence Linwood, the patriarch of the Linwood family. Per the terms of his will, the entirety of his estate will be left to the heir who solves his murder. From there, his three adopted adult children - Alan, Roger, and Caroline - begin to unravel the mystery of their father's untimely death.

If I'm being brutally honest, I had such high hopes for this book. I love a good murder mystery - and the idea of a 1920s murder mystery, set in a time when cell phones and other modern comforts couldn't be employed in the search for truth, immediately appealed to me. Unfortunately, this book fell flat.

The first quarter of the book is incredibly, loathsomely boring. I love to binge read books, but this one? I found myself putting down for days at a time. I struggled to care about the characters, or the plot, or really anything to do with the book. The pace finally started to pick up roughly 25% into the book, but I unfortunately continued to struggle throughout. The writing felt stilted, with extraneous details sprinkled throughout the text that left me feeling like I was trudging through mud to the finish line. The bones were good - the *plot* was good - but the execution... not the best.

Was this review helpful?

This was very well done for a debut. I wasn't as engrossed in the story as I maybe thought I would be, but it was still a captivating and interesting read! Something was just missing for me.... not sure what it was.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this read. I went into this not knowing exactly what to expect since the author is new to me but I was blown away by this story. I love a good mystery that knows how to build up to a big revelation and thats exactly what I got here! Thank you for providing me with an ARC (at the time) and sorry for the late feedback.

Was this review helpful?

This storyline just didn't connect with me at the time of my reading. I do think they author has a strong writing style and some of his choices were unique. I would try something else down the road if the plot sounded interesting to me.

Was this review helpful?

Unnatural ends is a fun twist on the traditional Agatha Christie mystery. At the reading of his will, a wealthy father challenges his children to find out who killed him. The winner will be. The heir to his vast fortunate. The three siblings set on separate missions to find the killer, uncovering secrets and twists along the way. A fun, entertaining mystery perfect for fans who love a puzzle and golden age detective novels.

Thanks to the publisher for providing the arc via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

The cover of this book drew me in and it really didn't disappoint. When a wealthy father passes away, his three adopted adult children come back to pay their respects and find out who will inherit the family estate. But during the reading of the will, their dead father announces his murder and challenges the children to figure out who killed them. The one who solves the mystery will be the heir. Each adult child starts their own journey of not only trying to solve the murder but contending with their memories of their domineering father. This book felt very like an Agatha Christie murder mystery and I enjoyed the journey! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free e-copy for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Hard to put this one down! I love a murder mystery and this one ticked all the boxes.

Thanks for this ARC!

Was this review helpful?

There was something about this book that was unexpected and that I actually enjoyed! As with many books, when I actually start reading a book, a lot of time has passed between me having read the blurb. This essentially means that when I start a book, it is almost always a surprise (Unless I have been following the series previously).
Given the title and the cover page, I did not expect the story to be about three adopted siblings who are tasked with figuring out their father's killer while the prize for doing so is the property that they grew up on, one that serves as a symbol of the local gentry.
We have three different types of siblings. One is white, another is of Oriental descent (I use the word to differentiate from the last sibling), and the third is of other Asian or Mediterranean descent. Their history is a secret to them, one they have never questioned, even as their father worked to ensure that they did not face prejudice under his roof for their looks. They did have other ghosts to bear with, something that we discover in due time.
They have had a hard life in some ways, even amongst the material comforts they grew up in. The author takes his time feeding the information for us to form the shifting form of the father figure. The situation we begin with is not the one we end up with.
The three then take it upon themselves to go down the tracks they see fit for more reasons than one. Finally, they manage to piece together the actual facts and finally accept their memories wholly for what they were.
It masquerades as a mystery but is, in reality, entirely a family drama. The various types of people who make up the whole ensure that we have a range of emotional upheavals to unwrap.
I liked the sibling bonds (although for a couple of chapters in the beginning, I was concerned about something untoward - luckily, that was not the case) and even as I found the story slow, I liked the pacing. I would recommend this to people who want to read something different.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

Was this review helpful?

This was a surprisingly dark and twisted mystery very much in the vein of Agatha Christie and Daphne Du Maurier.

It concerns the three Linwood siblings who return to the ancestral home after the murder of their adoptive father.

The surface murder mystery is only a vehicle however for a critical examination of the postwar period in the 1920s.

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this book (it was a bit too dark with a pervading unease for that) but it kept me absorbed. The mystery was clever and the world building was detailed and convincing. I would definitely recommend.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. Descriptive, rich vocabulary. Amazing descriptions. The plot takes the reader on a turbulent journey. Downtown Abbey era, murder mystery coupled with a dysfunctional family set in the Yorkshire moors. Loved it.

Was this review helpful?

Christopher Huang returns with his second book, which is a homage to Golden Age locked room mysteries. I love a good locked room mystery, where it's inconceivable that anyone could have made it past a locked, sturdy door to murder someone. Of course, this book isn't just presenting a solution to that puzzle, but also touches on transnational adoption, identity, eugenics, and abuse.

Three adopted siblings are called back home: Alan recently returned from Peru and his archeological dig, Roger looking to make a name for himself in airplane engineering, and Caroline, a journalist, home from Paris where she is based.

Lord and Lady Linwood could not have children, so Lord Linwood adopted each of the children while on his travels. He raised them on his family's estate, held for centuries by the Linwoods (the associated town is Linwood Hollow). Lord Linwood was extremely strict, and raised the three kids to be eventual leaders in their respected professions. His approach was uncompromising, teaching the kids to be entirely self-centred, driven, constantly striving for perfection and to be the only ones left standing in any confrontation or debate.

The three adults are utterly shocked to find their father was murdered, and that a stipulation of his will was that the one who solved his murder would be the sole winner of the estate.

Uncomfortable initially, Alan, Caroline and Roger begin investigating, exposing some seriously horrible secrets about their father's intentions in adopting them, as well as his treatment of everyone in his life. The more they dig, the uglier their pasts look.

This is a quiet, slow-moving story, which starts with us meeting the three adult children, all reluctant to return home, and ambivalent about their feelings for each other and their parents. That their father is still trying to control them even after his death is unsurprising to them, but they still are very eager to obtain his approval, giving us an inkling to how messed up their relationship to him was.

Huang gradually reveals a family steeped in manipulation, abuse, firm discipline and punishment, with all, including Lady Linwood, suffering at Lord Linwood's hands. That the three even still have any fondness for the other is amazing, but as kids, their only respite from their harsh upbringing was when they played together.

I will admit that I had figured out part of the mystery early on, and had my suspicions about the rest confirmed once a pretty big plot point was revealed. That didn't detract from my enjoyment of this story. I liked the siblings, and how they reacted to each new revelation about themselves and their family.

Huang presents a carefully constructed story, with each of the siblings' points of view taking us through their reactions to each new ugly twist their investigation unearths. This is a homage to the Golden Age mysteries, and it's also an interesting exploration of a seriously dysfunctional family whose legacy is built on lies, violence and ambition. I enjoyed it, and look forward to Christopher Huang's next story.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Inkshares for this ARC in exchange for my review.

Was this review helpful?

A well written and fascinating whodunit, atmospheric and gripping.
I loved the tightly knitted plot and the well developed characters.
An interesting story.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

Was this review helpful?