A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel with eccentric, dysfunctional characters who will keep you guessing until the end—for readers of Luckiest Girl Alive and The Wife Between Us.
Ava has her reasons for running away to Paris. But when she receives the shocking news that her twin sister, Zelda, is dead, she is forced to return home to her family’s failing vineyard in upstate New York. Knowing Zelda’s penchant for tricks and deception, Ava is not surprised when she receives her twin’s cryptic message from beyond the grave. Following her sister’s trail of clues, Ava immerses herself in Zelda’s drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers, and soon finds herself confronted with dark family legacies and twisted relationships. Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending? Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut thriller is a literary scavenger hunt for secrets hidden everywhere from wine country to social media, and buried at the dysfunctional heart of one utterly unforgettable family.
Praise for Dead Letters
“Dolan-Leach writes like Paula Hawkins by way of Curtis Sittenfeld.”—Amy Gentry, author of Good as Gone
“A sharp, wrenching tale of the true love only twins know . . . Dolan-Leach nimbly entwines the clever mystery of Agatha Christie, the wit of Dorothy Parker, and the inebriated Gothic of Eugene O’Neill.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A smart, dazzling mystery . . . Dolan-Leach revels in toying with both Ava and her audience . . . and the result is captivating.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Draws you in like you are part of the story itself, living and breathing alongside the compelling characters as they uncover the dark secrets of their complicated family.”—Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten
“Push-pull tension . . . This book is wine-soaked yet lucid, comforting and frightening, asking the big questions about intimacy and loyalty.”—Caroline Kepnes, author of You
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We’re completely obsessed with Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut, a clever and twisted mystery. Dead Letters is the story of twins Ava and Zelda, who grow up on an insolvent vineyard in New York’s lovely Finger Lakes region. When the tempestuous Zelda is involved in a tragic accident, her estranged sister is called back home. As Ava tries to figure out what’s really going on, we learn more and more about this family’s troubles. We couldn’t wait to dive back into this crisply written, suspenseful story every chance we got.
When news of Zelda Antipova's death reaches her buttoned-down twin sister, Ava, the latter returns home to her family's central New York vineyard from Paris. She helps her ailing mother and estranged father with funeral arrangements, yet Ava is suspicious of her townie sister's supposed demise in a barn fire, and it isn't long before she begins to receive email messages from Zelda, who claims to have faked her own death. Following a series of clues left by Zelda, Ava begins to piece together her sister's troubles, from massive debt to drug addiction. Along with her old high school boyfriend, Wyatt, she immerses herself in Zelda's world, hoping to find her sister at the end of the puzzle. Dolan-Leach's debut is a smart, dazzling mystery with a twist that not only shines a new light on the novel's title but also leaves the reader hunting for the next clue. Dolan-Leach revels in toying with both Ava and her audience, placing small hints and red herrings throughout her text, and the result is captivating.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Thoroughly enjoyed this one
This book dragged on a little for me but other then that I thought it was really clever and I wanted to reach the end to find out what happened. I changed theories a few times throughout the book but ultimately guessed the end, which was okay because I still enjoyed the read
Follow the clues!
What a great book! I completely loved it. So happy to see that she has another. You go girl!
What an ending!
Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.
Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.
As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.
One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.
The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)
Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!
I’ll sum it up this way - for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.
So should you read the book?
If you’re into literary books - YES.
If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking - YES.
I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.