The narrator of Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson, Ernest “Ern” Cunningham self-publishes how-to guides for would-be crime novelists. Ern, a fan of Golden Age mysteries like those of Conan Doyle and Christie, stresses to budding writers the need to follow Ronald Knox’s ten commandments of crime fiction. Ern mostly follows his own advice as he sets out to write this novel about his family, whose members have all indeed killed someone.
Ern has been on the outs with his family for several years—ever since he gave evidence in a murder trial that led to the incarceration of his brother Michael. Now that Michael is to be released, Ern has been ordered to attend a family reunion at a ski resort in the Australian Snowy Mountains. The morning after the Cunninghams arrive at the resort, a body of a stranger is found in the snow. When the local incompetent policeman arrives and arrests Michael for the crime, Ern decides to investigate what really happened.
Along the way, Ern shares his murderous family’s every dirty secret and dysfunction and leaves red herrings at every turn. Not only does Ern constantly break the fourth wall and talk directly to his readers about his story’s structure and the murderer’s possible motives, he also gives a head’s up when a scene or clue is important to the mystery’s resolution. Conversely, he also takes great pleasure in holding information back until it suits his needs. The result is a less than reliable narrator delivering up a sometimes-hilarious and totally engrossing classic crime story with a modern twist.
If you enjoy family dramas, clever locked-room mysteries solved by the use of logic, and quirky reads with plenty of laugh out loud moments, add Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone to your “to be read” pile. This first in a planned series has already been picked up for adaptation by HBO too. Get in on the ground floor and read it first!