When Lucy’s mother passed away while she was a girl, Lucy hoped that someday she’d find a mother/daughter bond with her future mother-in-law. But that kind of bond has never really materialized with Diana, who keeps her children at arm’s length and wants to make sure that each of them can stand on their own in this world.
So, when Diana passes away suddenly under potentially suspicious circumstances, each member of her family has a really good motive.
Less a murder mystery and more a domestic thriller, Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law is a character study of both Lucy and Diana. Told in alternating viewpoints and at various points in their lives of both Lucy and Diana, Hepworth takes time to give us the perspective of all the parties involved and help us to understand their motivations. Several of Diana’s children see her desire for them to stand on their own two feet as a punishment or her being vindictive. But, instead, we are allowed inside Diana’s world to understand how her helping those less fortunate or not allowed the same opportunities as her family has brought her to the point of wanting her children to stand on their own for both good and bad.
And while the stakes aren’t necessarily high ones, they are still compelling ones, especially when the kids find out that Diana has changed her will and that her death won’t be the easy “get of jail free” card some of them were hoping for (or counting on).
A compelling thriller with some great character study, The Mother-in-Law is a very different kind of domestic suspense page turner.