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A double life
New York, New York : Viking, [2018]
Physical Description:
261 pages ; 24 cm
London. Nearly thirty years ago, while Claire and her infant brother slept upstairs, a brutal crime was committed in her family's townhouse. Her father's car was found abandoned near the English Channel the next morning, with bloodstains on the front seat. Her mother insisted she'd seen him in the house that night, but his powerful, privileged friends maintained his innocence. The first lord accused of murder in more than a century, he has been missing ever since-- and now the police may have found him. As her life as a quiet, hardworking doctor starts to fracture, how far will Claire go to find the truth? -- adapted from jacket.


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"A thrilling page-turner." --Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

"Breathtaking . . . As shocking as it is satisfying." -- The New York Times Book Review

A riveting and sophisticated page-turner inspired by one of the most shocking true crimes in 20th century Britain: the Lord Lucan case.

"A better person would for­give him. A different sort of better person would have found him years ago."

Claire is a hardworking doctor leading a simple, quiet life in London. She is also the daughter of the most notorious murder suspect in the country, though no one knows it.

Nearly thirty years ago, while Claire and her brother slept upstairs, a brutal crime was committed in her family's townhouse. The next morning, her father's car was found abandoned near the English Channel, with bloodstains on the front seat. Her mother insisted she'd seen him in the house that night, but his powerful, privileged friends maintained his innocence. The first lord accused of murder in more than a century, he has been missing ever since.

When the police tell Claire they've found him, her carefully calibrated existence begins to fracture. She doesn't know if she's the daughter of a murderer or a wronged man, but Claire will soon learn how far she'll go to finally find the truth.

Loosely inspired by one of the most notorious unsolved crimes of the 20th century - the Lord Lucan case - A Double Life is at once a riveting page-turner and a moving reflection on women and violence, trauma and memory, and class and privilege.

Named a Must-Read by Entertainment Weekly , Bustle , O Magazine, BBC , CrimeReads, and PureWow

Author Notes

Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and the recipient of a Yaddo fellowship. Her first novel, Under the Harrow , won the 2017 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and The Atlantic .

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

London doctor Claire Alden, the 34-year-old narrator of this engrossing psychological thriller from Edgar-winner Berry (Under the Harrow), remains obsessed with finding answers decades after the horrific night when her nanny was slaughtered in her family's Belgravia townhouse and her mother, Faye, was left near death. The crime's prime suspect, Claire's titled father, Colin Spenser, vanished without a trace. Claire, who leads an almost hermitlike existence, can't stop her sleuthing. She tails some of her father's posh friends in a desperate hunt for clues to his whereabouts as well as why they hated her working-class mother so much that they would shield a murderer. Claire combs through her own memories and Faye's extensive diary entries and other research to vividly imagine her parents' relationship, then subsequently manages to befriend, unrecognized, the daughter of one of Colin's closest chums in the hope of discovering further leads. The action builds to a shocking but satisfying conclusion. Berry tells this shattering story with surprising grace. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Berry's (Under the Harrow, 2016) second thriller explores the effects of a brutal crime on the family of the alleged perpetrator nearly 30 years later.Claire's father, Lord Spenser, notorious for being one of the highest-ranking members of British society to be accused of murder, disappeared 26 years ago, after Claire's mother and nanny were both attacked. The police contact her when there is a sighting or a lead, but so far, these have all turned out to be false. Driven by her need for closure and her concern for her opium-addicted brother, Claire befriends the daughter of her father's best friend under false pretenses so she can be invited to the family estate and conduct her own investigation. Claire's first-person narrative alternates with a third-person account of her parents' early courtship and marriage and Claire's own childhood memories leading up to the murder. Berry is an expert at slow pacing, letting the characters' tension gradually build to a boiling point, but that's also a drawback. The mystery, and the characters, seems to lack true passion. By the time the climax comes around, the level of action and violence contradicts the tone of the rest of the novel. She does have a talent for setting, and the emphasis on the insulation of the arrogant, if declining, aristocracy resonates as a larger commentary on British society. The most fascinating side of the novel, implied but not openly developed, is that Claire's obsession with her father leads her to make some pretty shady choices of her own, and she strongly believes that the end justifies the means. She's not quite an unreliable narrator, but those patches of darkness in her character do add an extra layer that could have been explored more deeply.A competent psychological mystery that lacks greater human resonance. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Berry's debut, Under the Harrow (2016), won an Edgar for Best First Novel and garnered multiple best books listings, making it a hard act to follow. Critics praised Berry's striking, original voice and Hitchcockian twists, both in evidence again here, along with the themes of obsession and memory. The major difference between the two books is that rather than an abrupt and surprising ending, A Double Life features a somewhat protracted and shocking conclusion that will have nail-biters gnawing down to their nubs. Claire is a dedicated doctor living an insular life in London under an assumed name because she is the daughter of a notorious murder suspect. Nearly 30 years earlier, while Claire and her brother slept, their father was assumed to have killed their nanny and brutally assaulted their mother, then disappeared without a trace. She believes that his powerful and privileged friends are protecting him and goes to extraordinary lengths to ingratiate herself with them, recklessly blackmailing them for his current location. Bound to please Berry's fans as well as followers of domestic-noir masters of the be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale, including Hallie Ephron, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.--Murphy, Jane Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

GIVE ME YOUR HAND, by Megan Abbott. (Little, Brown, $26.) Abbott, who always immerses readers in hothouse subcultures in her novels - cheerleading, gymnastics - here explores the relationship between competitive scientists at a cutthroat university laboratory. THE SINNERS, by Ace Atkins. (Putnam, $27.) The latest crime novel featuring Sheriff Quinn Colson revolves around a high-end marijuana operation, Fannie Hathcock's thriving strip joint/ brothel and a crooked trucking outfit based in Tupelo, Miss., that cons drivers into hauling stolen goods. ONLY TO SLEEP, by Lawrence Osborne. (Hogarth, $26.) A thriller that jolts Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's iconic private investigator, out of his quiet Mexican retirement and back into the world of scams and seductions. Osborne, who worked as a reporter along the border in the early 1990s, knows Mexico well and he passes that knowledge along to Marlowe. CONAN DOYLE FOR THE DEFENSE: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Writer, by Margalit Fox. (Random House, $27.) Fox, a recently retired obituaries writer for The Times, tells the thrilling story of Arthur Conan Doyle's involvement in a real-life case that might have intrigued his hero, Sherlock Holmes. A DOUBLE LIFE, by Flynn Berry. (Viking, $26.) In this thriller, a London doctor searches for her father, a man of power who long ago disappeared after a murder it appears he committed. Berry tells stories about women who seethe over the knowledge of violence and are fueled by a howling grief for its victims. AFTER THE MONSOON, by Robert Karjel. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) Karjel's Nordic-noir thriller refreshingly shifts the action from bleak Scandinavia to Djibouti, at the Horn of Africa, where spies and kidnappers converge and Swedish special forces confront the region's jihadists. THE PRICE YOU PAY, by Aidán Truhen. (Knopf, $25.95.) Imagine "Pulp Fiction" crossed with Martin Amis on mescaline, and you'll have a sense of this cocaineinfused, high-octane caper, a brilliant latticework of barbed jokes, subtle observations and inventive misbehaviors at once knowing and brutal. NEVERWORLD WAKE, by Marisha Pessl. (Delacorte, $18.99.) Pessl's first young adult novel is a dazzling psychological thriller in which four high school classmates determine to find answers about the death of a friend. THE BANKER'S WIFE, by Cristina Alger. (Putnam, $27.) In Alger's cerebral, expertly paced Swiss thriller, an American expat wife sorts through the conflicting stories surrounding her husband's death. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books

Library Journal Review

Claire Alden is a young doctor in London, obsessed with the disappearance of her father. The first lord to be accused of murder in nearly a century, he vanished when she was a child; her nanny also disappeared at the same time. Claire's father left no trace except the bloodstains in his car, which was abandoned near the sea. Claire's mother claims her husband was home when the murder occurred, but his titled cronies say no. Is he innocent or is Claire the daughter of a brutal murderer? She is consumed by her need for the truth, but how far will she go, and how much of her life will she sacrifice to find it? Calm and deliberate in its unfolding, the story steadily gains momentum to the snap of the very last page. VERDICT Loosely based on the infamous 1974 Lord Lucan case, in which a British lord suspected in the murder of his family's nanny disappeared, this second novel from Edgar Award-winning Berry (Under the Harrow) presents a polished psychological thriller that will be devoured by fans of Ruth Ware, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.-Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge -Island, WA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.