by Christopher Huang
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Pub Date 23 May 2023 | Archive Date 01 Apr 2023
To secure their future, each Linwood heir must now dig into the past. As their suspicion mounts—of each other and of peculiar strangers in the churchless town of Linwood Hollow—they come to suspect that the perpetrator lurks in the mysterious origins of their own birth.
A Note From the Publisher
"Delightful and immersive." —Foreword Reviews
"A puzzle worthy of Golden Age detective fiction. Fans of historical mysteries and 1920s novels will welcome this twisted, complex story." —Library Journal
"Delightful and immersive." —Foreword Reviews
"A puzzle worthy of Golden Age detective fiction. Fans of historical mysteries and 1920s novels will welcome this twisted, complex story." —Library Journal
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 254 members
Found dead in his study, battered to death with a mediaeval mace, Sir Lawrence Linwood's death is somewhat of a mystery. The rather dysfunctional Linwood clan have been beckoned from far and wide to attend his funeral, blissfully unaware that a murder has taken place until their arrival and that their task will be to find his killer. With a perfect setting and a gloriously crafted cast of characters, way more than a nod to classic Golden Age crime fiction and a solid locked room mystery at its’ heart, this is an intriguing, immersive and delightful read from start to finish. Aficionados of a vintage mystery will be in their element.
Wow, I loved this book. Set on an estate perched on a cliff over the village below, just after WWI, 3 adopted, now adult children return when their despot of a father is bludgeoned to death. It’s a wonderful mix of mystery, history, and numerous plot twists. Layers of truth are slowly revealed as the 3 siblings take us back to earlier years. Roger, his motorcar, descriptions of Iris, and the overall ‘stiff upper lip attitude’ take me back to the post War era Downton Abby shows…..Matthew with his car racing down the roads, the family needing to modernize and expand the financial base of the village that relies on them, and the regard with which the village holds the great halls residents are themes that are reflected in this book. I couldn’t put this book down, thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy, Reading how Alan, Roger, and Caroline work their way through their family history and the mystery was a true joy.
If you are looking for a book with several twists and turns this is a great one. I enjoyed both the main characters, as well as minor characters in the book. Linwood Hall, where the three main characters grew up, seems to have a personality all its own as well. If the several books I've read so far this year, this might be my favorite.
While I can't say I didn't see the end coming from fairly early on, the path Huang authored was a wild ride. It was like a puzzle: I knew the end result, but it took me a while to see how the pieces fit together. It was also interesting to see it play out from all three of the Linwood children's point of view.
I've seen other reviews stating the characters seem flat, or readers were unable to connect with them; however, I would think this is how Huang intended them to be. The three main characters also had great development through the story. What the Linwood children lacked, the minor characters possessed. The detail with which we got to know the other characters seemed to bring out their humanity, which even affirms my belief Huang intended the Linwoods to be somewhat flat.
Linwood Hall was one of the most interesting settings I've encountered recently. The reverence characters have for the structure, the detail with which it is described, and the atrocities that occurred within its walls make it feel like a living, breathing thing. If only these walls could talk.
I highly recommend this book, and I certainly hope to read more from Huang in the future.
Linwood Hall, in the year 1906, was "a jumble of grey stone walls pockmarked with tall, narrow windows. French doors had been punched into the ground floor in the last century opening on the broad terrace cantilevering over the cliff...All around them, the windswept North Yorkshire moors...". A tall tower room rose from the middle of the estate, a playroom nicknamed "Camelot" by the three adopted children of Sir Lawrence Linwood. "Camelot" was accessible through passages behind the walls.
In 1921, Alan an archeologist, Roger an engineer, and Caroline, a journalist were called home upon the death of their father. "In the event that my death should be due to unnatural causes, I charge my children with the task of identifying the killer. If one of them finds the killer, to the satisfaction of the police and the courts of law-I rescind previous statements and leave the entirety of this residuary estate to that child." It was determined that Sir Lawrence was murdered in his study, the instrument of death, a medieval flanged mace. "Wasn't one of the suits of armor in the great hall holding a mace?"
There had been no way to escape Father's shadow. A portrait of him hung over the marble fireplace. Alan, the eldest child, channeled Father's voice. "Find my killer. Only do this for me, and all of this shall be yours." Three adopted children, raised with an iron fist by a tyrant of a father, began to peal away layers of the past in an attempt to look to the future. The twists, turns and ever widening array of potential murder suspects will keep the reader guessing and reassessing! Even as adults, Sir Lawrence's presence loomed over his children's lives. They soldiered on, looking for clues, finding an old inscribed watch...a rosary. Were these relics of the past connected to the present day search for answers?
"Unnatural Ends" by Christopher Huang is a gothic mystery, a who-dun-it thriller, and a family drama created by dysfunction. Alan, Roger, and Caroline each share their perspective of being raised by Sir Lawrence as well as their theories on his demise. Plan to be surprised! Highly recommended.
Thank you Inkshares and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Are you looking for a mystery for a book club pick that has a Golden Age flavor similar to Agatha Christie with the bonus of deep themes and interesting characters? Then you’ll want to read “Unnatural Ends” by Christopher Huang.
“Unnatural Ends” has a classic set-up. A patriarch dies and when the family gathers to read the will, it’s revealed the death was murder. Where “Unnatural Ends” departs from many classic mysteries is the depth of characterization of the three adult children as well as explorations of the themes of control, independence, expection, and competition. Add in a layer of Gothic overtones and you have a novel tailor-made for deep and interesting book club discussions.
Read-alikes include mysteries with sibling sleuths, Yorkshire settings, and Huang’s first book, “A Gentleman’s Murder.”
Full episode about "Unnatural Ends" will release in December 2022 and be available for download on any podcast app. Thanks to NetGalley and Inkshares for a review copy. All opinions are my own.
I really enjoyed this book! It hooked me from the very first chapter, and kept me hooked the entire time!
This was so good. It reminded me of an Agatha Christie movie / book mixed with a touch of Downton Abbey . Right from the start it draws you in trying to solve the mystery yourself. I loved the era and location of the book ,a real golden age mystery. Highly recommended.
Soul chilling. My heart bled for the main characters and at times I wished I would have been able to jump into the story to rescue them and poor all the warmth I have in me in their battered minds
Masterfully crafted and mesmerizing mystery which compelled me to read it in one day.
This was a doozy but so good! Highly recommend to others! New author for me and I look forward to other books by them.
This one is a twisty thriller! You will think you have the mystery solved, but it throws you for a loop. Roger,Caroline, and Alan Linwood return home to Linwood Hall after receiving the news that their father has been murdered. Upon the reading of the Will, they learn that who ever solves their father’s murder will be the heir to the Estate. While they are searching, they discover shocking clues that each of them were chosen through selective breeding. Everyone is not who and what they seem. Be prepared to piece it together for a fantastic ending.
A wonderfully constructed story of privilege and unhappiness.
Sir Lawrence Linwood is dead, battered to death with a mediaeval mace. His three adopted children return to the Linwood estate for the funeral, they do not yet know that Sir Lawrence was murdered. Each child is looking forward to meeting their siblings, but the real draw, is the near- feudal village that belongs to the estate, and the Hall itself, they all have fond memories of a Camelot style grand building, complete with hidden doors, secret passages, and a large Tower room that used to be their playroom away from the eyes of adults.
Alan, the eldest, is now an Archeological expert, recently been working in Peru. Roger is an engineer, Caroline is a journalist working in Paris.
The Will states that if the death is due to unnatural causes, the children must find the killer. The one who is successful in this will inherit the whole estate.
Each chapter is devoted to a particular child, their job, their relationship with an emotionally distant father, and emotionally distressed mother, and their past interactions with their siblings. This book is full of twists and turns, nothing and nobody is who they seem to be. A classic Golden Age detection story, with plenty of disturbing family secrets to discover.
A compelling and unforgettable read. A grand family estate is no guarantee of happiness ever after.
A five star read. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers Inkshares for my advance digital copy, given in exchange for my honest review.
I will leave reviews to Goodreads and Amazon when pages are opened.
“𝑰𝒕 𝒕𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏 𝒃𝒍𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒂 𝒃𝒐𝒏𝒅 […] 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒃𝒊𝒐𝒍𝒐𝒈𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒎𝒂𝒅𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒂 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒂𝒏𝒚𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈.”
What business do I have reviewing a book that doesn’t come out until January 2023 when I have others to prioritize?! I am super glad I did though - Unnatural Ends was EXCELLENT.
I love a good mystery, and this has all the makings of one; it especially felt like an homage to an Agatha Christie novel, one that she could’ve easily written herself. There was the imposing father figure, the country house mansion, the post-WWI timeline, and the amateur detectives in the three siblings. Iris and Roger reminded me a bit of Tommy and Tuppence investigating and the adopted siblings reminded me of the family from Ordeal by Innocence. There was even a revolving bookcase to the servants’ passage that felt like a nod to the secret passageways in Clue! This story kicked off with a murder and a mysterious will and kept up the pace as each sibling tried to piece together what may have happened, especially as they dove into the connections surrounding their birth parents. Christopher Huang’s writing is sharp, with some really good twists and reveals, alongside making connections later in the book to things that seemed irrelevant at the beginning. The story also explores prejudice and racism, which gives it a different angle than just a regular whodunnit. There were a few spots that dragged, and if you are familiar with Christie, you may see the ending coming, but overall the story was incredibly engaging and I loved seeing how Huang connected all the puzzle pieces.
Unnatural Ends is a story about family, chosen and bloodline, the strength in siblings, and the trauma we face. It is perfect for readers who love the Golden Age of detective fiction and makes a worthy addition to a mystery lover’s bookshelf. A big thank you to Inkshares and NetGalley for the ARC!
Unnatural Ends is a cleverly constructed mystery, with a great many red herrings. When Sir Lawrence is murdered, the suspects are numerous. It seems that far more people either wanted him dead or wanted to be the one to murder him, but unfortunately, he can only be murdered once. There are a plethora of fascinating characters to consider, including his three adopted children, his wife, and friends from his past. The secrets are multilayered, numerous, and cleverly disguised. No one and nothing is what it seems.
Unnatural Ends was a fun book, and thus, I really hated for it to end. The characters were so well defined that I felt I was there, helping them solve so many different crimes. This is a book in which the reader becomes so involved that it is tough to put down. Peeling back the layers of Sir Lawrence's life is rather like peeling an onion, only more pungent. This cruel sadist man emerges in remembrances past, in which his children recount their childhoods. Sir Lawrence was such an evil man, that his murder appears impossible. Such evil cannot possibly cease to exist, but dead he is, and the crime needs to be solved.. The end of the novel and solving of the crime is a terrific and perfect ending. Now I want to go back and reread Unnatural Ends.
This is the first Christopher Huang book that I had read, I will certainly want to read more of his work. I want to thank both the author and the publisher, Inkshares Press, for providing this ARC. This was such a fun and entertaining book that writing a positive review is the only way I can possibly describe Unnatural Ends. Thank you also to NetGalley for introducing me to another wonderful author.
ABSOLUTELY COMPELLING book!!!
Great also for fans of Agatha Christie or Anthony Horowitz. This is the best mystery book I've read in over a year. I couldn't put it down and I stayed up late to keep reading! The writing alone is also just SO excellent. I enjoyed the beautiful prose as well as the story and characters.
Like many mysteries, Alan, Roger, and Caroline are summoned home to the funeral of their father in the early 1920s. When the will is read, it holds some surprises for everyone. However, that is where this books stops being like most similar stories and the complicated twists begin!
The book is part drama/character study, and part murder mystery. It is full of twists and turns and I loved every minute of it! I look forward to other books by this author, whom I had never heard of before.
Great for book clubs as well, because the characters were so interesting and lent themselves to discussion even apart from the mystery aspect!
Three adopted children, Alan, Roger, and Caroline, have returned to their childhood home after learning of their father’s death, only to find that he was beaten to death in his own study. Furthermore, his will reveals that his sizable estate will go to the sibling who solves his murder.
Unnatural Ends is a remarkable book, filled with descriptive passages that are so well-done that it is easy to imagine the location, the people, and the period of time. The character development is stellar, the complex plot is very well-conceived, and the twists and surprises occur at just the right moments. It is an historical mystery, with gothic elements, family drama, and an unbeatable presentation. The language and grammar are so well-done, creating a tapestry of descriptions, thoughts, and ideas.
Unnatural Ends is one of the best books I have read in 2022. Hats off to Christopher Huang for writing such an enjoyable mystery!
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
This was brilliant!! Let met say it again: This. Book. Is. Brilliant.
At first it seemed like I was going to need some time getting into the story and the writing style, but this was not the case at all. The concept of this story was so good and I could not wait to get into it. It did not disappoint. I really liked the flashbacks and different povs, they really helped to progress the story.
I loved the characters and how different, yet similar they were. They all have their own lives and stories. For a long time everyone was a suspect and their were many plottwists that I did not expect at all. I genuinly gasped out loud several times. So many important events were seen from several point of views.
It was a complicated mystery, but a very surprising one.
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read and enjoy this beautifully written e-arc.
I really enjoyed this novel it was a very fast read and Id definitely recommend.
Wow! This book is in contention for being one of my favorite murder mysteries of all time. It feels equally driven by the characters and the plot, which is hard to come by these days; the glorious complexity of the mystery doesn’t overshadow the complexity of each Linwood sibling. The prose is dazzling, the descriptions full, the setting haunting. You can really tell how much thought went into crafting every little detail, and I give Huang so much credit for putting this all together.
This book prompted me to reread it upon finishing, which is one of the highest levels of praise I can give to a mystery. Its conclusion was foreshadowed so cleverly that I felt compelled to revisit the little clues I missed the first time around. In contrast to mystery/thrillers that seem to just pick the most shock-worthy ending possible, this one seems to have been carefully developed to convey Huang’s overarching message. The “red herrings” are not fake outs that lead to nowhere, but rather serve as important pieces of the puzzle. The cast of characters is large enough to yield a wide array of theories, but not too large that it causes confusion or information overload. As an aspiring writer, this is a piece I’ll be revisiting as an example of so many things done right.
I’ve tried to break down some of the many factors that came together to create what I’d consider to be a masterful piece of work, which I included in my Goodreads review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4916632058) as to not take up too much space here. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Inkshares for this ARC in exchange for my review! I’m so thrilled to be able to share my thoughts about it and can’t wait to see if other readers felt the same.
Loved this book! Sir Lawrence Linwood has been murdered. His children who are adopted are called back home. The will is read and the person who solves the murder inherits the family fortune. However, as they investigate the murder two things come to light firstly the children’s lives are not what they seem, and there is more to this murder than meets the eye. Brilliant, and such a great twist.
This story has a lot of twists and turns, and as soon as you think you have it figured out, you realize you're wrong. The story is not convoluted though and is easy follow. Just enough detail without being burdensome.
Character development is great, and the unique format for describing the important parts from each character's point of view is interesting.
Will definitely look for other works by this author.
Linwood Hall is perched above a cliff, overlooking the Yorkshire moors on one side, and towering over the villagers of Linwood Hollow on the other. Today it is spring of 1921, and the house is preparing the austere burial of its master. The three adult children, all adopted, are coming back for the funeral of their Father. Together with Mother, they are instructed about the will: Linwood Hall is to be sold and the proceedings are to be divided into three equals part, meaning the estate will no longer be in the family after countless generations. That is unless Father died of unnatural causes, in which case the whole estate will go to the child who solves the murder. As father has in fact been brutally murdered, this is the start of an investigation that will delve into the deeply buried secrets of the Linwood family.
Of course, there is the mystery to be solved, but first and foremost, this book is filleting the psychological repercussions of a dysfunctional family: what does it mean to be adopted, how can a child bounce back from a cruel upbringing without any love or tenderness, how strong are the ties that keep siblings together, how can a husband break his intelligent and independent wife? After reading some contemporary quick and dirty "domestic thrillers", I vowed to avoid the genre entirely for a few years, but here we have a clever and interesting take on the genre. The settings are perfect for a fall read, going back and forth between the dark estate in the moors and the bustling city center of London in the pouring rain, while delving into humans darkest motivations and actions. If I were to point out any flaw, it would be the length of the book, because even when reading very nice prose at a perfect pace, sometimes it is just too long.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a different approach to a genre that I thought was largely over its peak.
This was a new author for me . I never read anything from this author before but for the most part I really liked this book. I thought the whole story was amazing. I honestly didn’t want this book to end. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with on the next book they write. I usually judge a book from the cover because for me it shows if it’s going to be interesting or not and I loved the book
I really enjoyed reading Unnatural Ends by Christopher Huang. This historical fiction book takes readers on an interesting journey through the experiences of three adopted siblings as they come to terms with the death of their demanding father. Secrets are revealed and truths that bring the siblings closer together are faced. The end of the book brings an interesting surprise for readers. I recommend this book to historical mystery readers. You will enjoy it immensely.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy.
Really really enjoyed this mystery. Great setting. A puzzling mystery
Constant twists.and the variety of viewpoints kept this engrossing., Look forward to more from this authot.
As I read this book, the golden-age mystery writers—John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, and Josephine Tey—came to mind. These writers set the standard for whodunits; stories that make us want to catch the murderous villain on our first (second, third) guess. So, what does Unnatural Ends have in common with these writers? Everything, including witty, concise, and natural prose.
We have a locked room with a dead body, ala John Dickson Carr: the master of the locked room mystery. Just like his novel The Hollow Man, we have a man found murdered in his study. The door and window are locked from the inside. There is also a character who might not be whom he/she says they are.
Like an Agatha Christie novel, there are many suspects, and no solid motive. Could it be his wife, Lady Linwood: a once strong and independent woman (one of the first female medical doctors in England) now silenced and cowed due to years of brutal abuse by her husband? Or should we be suspicious of his three adopted children? Sir Lawrence was an exacting and negligent parent; one who liked to test his children on their reactions to stimuli. He saw sentimentality, affection, and contrition as signs of weakness (never say you are sorry; it makes one appear weak). If he saw any of these qualities in any of his children, he would make sure to hold back any type of positive reward.
Finally, there are similarities to the crime/mystery stories of Josephine Tey; specifically, the police are secondary to the amateur sleuths. The grown children separately follow divergent leads towards uncovering his murder. Along the way, they learn more about the circumstances of their births, and the disappearances of their mothers. They are joined by Iris, the girlfriend of Roger who is the youngest and favorite of Sir Lawrences children. She adds an outsiders view to the family and the villagers.
This is a true homage vintage mystery and crime novels. I found no flaws in logic, and was engaged right from the start. It was refreshing to read something this well written by a modern writer.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Inkshares publishers for the opportunity to read and enjoy this whodunnit.
I absolutely loved reading this - it bought out my inner Miss Marple as not only was there a crime to solve, there was family secrets to unravel and character motivations to assess. The story being told in alternating point of view chapters by the 3 adopted Linwood children as they navigate the aftermath of their fathers murder worked brilliantly, it kept me guessing until almost the end.
This was great! I loved the mystery, I loved the atmosphere, but most of all I loved how all of the characters felt super developed!
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