#ATBR2020 – He Started It by Samantha Downing

Another solid read for the #allthebookreviews duo!

Thanks to Berkley Pub for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

HE STARTED IT – Samantha Downing (Released July 21st, 2020)

You can see our thoughts on her debut novel, MY LOVELY WIFE (here)


Book Description:

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Well well well, Downing, what have you done to me?!  I USED to like road trips. 🤣  Beth, Portia and Eddie… and ALL THE SECRETS.  Now, I don’t have siblings but I have been on many a long trip and siblings or not, your companions will, at some point, get on your last nerve.  People are just not meant to be in confined places for numerous hours.  Especially if they know how to push all your buttons.

What’s interesting is how this book is entirely told via Beth’s POV.  I think some readers will get frustrated with how this all seems like it’s told, rather than shown.  I didn’t really have much of an issue with it though as I felt like my claustrophobia within her complex mind really made me feel like I was sitting with them on their way.  You better believe I was thankful for some reprieve once in a while … but I didn’t get it – because I kept wondering WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON!  I will admit that I did think some things dragged on a bit too long.  HOWEVER, I think it was well done as it really gives you that road trip feel.

Now listen, you might think you know what you know but you don’t really know, you know? I couldn’t have foreseen that ending coming if my life depended on 😉 I turned that last page and the word “WHAT” came out of my mouth.  I kept turning thinking maybe they missed a couple pages? No? HELL YES!!  Absolutely loved that ending.  Seriously.  Well done, Downing.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

I absolutely loved Downing’s debut novel, MY LOVELY WIFE, so when I saw she had a new book coming out I knew I needed to pick it up ASAP. While I liked her debut just a little bit more, HE STARTED IT was just as addictive as a read and kept me guessing until the explosive ending. This one does start off with a slower build to it, but the author keeps you on the edge of your seat and keeps your curiosity piqued from start to finish. So many questions and you slowly get some answers that then lead to more questions. Little details are peppered in as we go from present day and back to their original road trip in 1999.

We see solely through Beth’s perspective with some journal entries sprinkled in. Beth and her two siblings, Eddie and Portia, as well as Beth and Eddie’s spouses Felix and Krista, are all on a roadtrip that will end in their inheritance from their grandfather. In his will he stated that they must repeat the roadtrip that they took in 1999 and at the end of it they will receive their portion of his enormous inheritance (just over one million each). The things people will do when money is a motivator. You would think this would be an easy trip, right? Well, when you have a strange truck following you through multiple states and the paranoia that comes with thinking someone is trying to sabotage you on top of a dysfunctional family dynamic, proves to make things more difficult than they imagined.

Plenty of secrets, not only from the spouses but within the family as well. Estranged siblings all reliving the roadtrip that changed everything for them. I don’t want to go into too much more detail and potentially ruin any twists or big reveals, but I will say that you really can’t trust any of these characters. Despite them all seeming to have a hidden agenda, some are really likable, at least I didn’t have any I was frustrated with. Overall, if you want a solid psychological suspense/thriller that has a consistent build to a crazy ending, then I highly recommend you pick this up. I think this helped solidify Downing’s position as a new auto-buy author for me!

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