No, this isn’t a self-help guide to murder; sorry to disappoint you if that’s what you’re looking for. Perhaps head over to the true crime section of your local library instead, for some top tips on bumping off annoying family members or irritating colleagues.
How To Kill Your Family is the bestselling debut novel from Bella Mackie (a freelance journalist who often writes for The Guardian).
Blurb on the back:
They say you can’t choose your family. But you can kill them…
Meet Grace Bernard. Daughter, sister, serial killer…
Grace has lost everything. And she will stop at nothing to get revenge.
I wasn’t looking for this book; I found it in our local Little Free Library, and grabbed it to bring on holiday. I mean, it looks like a fun read, with that pink cover and eye-catching graphics. There’s even a quote from current popular comic murder novelist Richard Osman, declaring “I loved this book”.
I’ll start off by saying that I enjoyed the build-up and descriptions of the murders; they are indeed darkly comical, and appealed to my twisted sense of humour. The protagonist, Grace, has strong opinions and prejudices against all kinds of people, which often make her seem shallow, although there is a deeper motivation that drives her to commit these crimes. (I won’t share any spoilers here!)
Chapters more-or-less alternate between Grace reflecting on life her prison cell after she has been, ironically, convicted of a murder that she did not commit, and the stories of the murders themselves, which she describes in delicious detail. Grace goes off on tangents, attacking other people’s lifestyles, which makes the reader wonder what kind of people does she actually does like; if she were a real person it’s hard to picture who her friends would be.
There is a twist at the end (no spoilers) which more-or-less wraps things up.
I enjoyed the crimes that Grace commits; even though she is meticulous and cruel, there is something very funny about this murderous story. I guess we have all day-dreamed about bumping someone off and getting away with it…
How To Kill Your Family is a nice companion to (the superior) My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite; both are darkly comical with blood, gore and humour aplenty.