Benjamin Stephenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. His humor is threaded throughout his latest novel, which has been sold in 24 territories around the world and will soon be adapted into a major HBO TV series.
Weekend Read by Claudine Wolk: Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone
Arts News Now’s Claudine Wolk reviews the award-winning stand-up comedian and author Benjamin Stephenson new book, Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone. His humor is threaded throughout his latest novel, which has been sold in 24 territories around the world and will soon be adapted into a major HBO TV series.
Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is a modern-day, who-done-it replete with humor and a clever twist.
Before you even read the first line on the first page of this book, you have to be intrigued. The title is amazing. Ernest, Ern for short, is the narrator of this Agatha Christie-style family who-done-it. As the narrator, Ern steps out of telling the story by speaking directly to the reader at times. At first the technique is a little disarming, but it becomes quite effective and endearing as the reader continues.
Ern and the rest of the Cunningham family have arrived at a mountain chalet in Australia for a reunion of sorts. Ern’s brother, Michael, is being released from prison and the family wants to greet him and celebrate. From the start, the reader understands that there is tension in the family, specifically between Ern and every other member of the family, except for his step-sister, Sophia, with whom he has a close bond. On the morning of day that Michael is to join the family at the ski lodge, a dead body is discovered on the ski slope under mysterious circumstances. The man has not died of hyperthermia but mysteriously by fire.
The ex-con, Michael, comes under immediate suspicion upon his arrival and Ern takes up the mantle of solving the murder mystery. For one, Ern wants to vindicate himself with Michael and his family but for another, Ern is an amateur sleuth. He “writes books about how to write books” for a living. Specifically, murder mystery detective books. Such is one of the many layers of interesting factoids in the telling of this story.
Through the course of the novel, all the family secrets come out, well-told by Ern, who promises us that he will be a reliable narrator. He assures us that he will always tell us the truth, but as the mysteries of the Cunningham family, are revealed – from his long dead, criminal father, Robert, to what happened the night Michael was arrested, to the unraveling of his marriage – it is unclear whether it is Ern’s memories of what is true, or the actual truth that we are being told.
Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is more than a great title. This novel will keep you interested, entertained and guessing from the first page to the last. It is a respectful nod to the golden age, old-time detective novels written according to “agreed-upon rules” complemented by the humor and wit of a likeable narrator in Ern. And yes, Ern reveals how each of the members of his family has killed someone.
Black humor and a clever twist make this an entertaining read.
Pub Date: January 17, 2023
Publisher: Mariner Books
Page Count: 384