Just after her 25th birthday, Libby receives a message. She finally knows the identity of her biological parents, but she also inherits a stately but mostly abandoned, mansion – worth millions – in Chelsea, London.
But what Libby cannot know is that others have also been waiting for this day and she is heading straight for a meeting with them.
Because 25 years ago the police were called to come to 16 Cheyne Walk. They found a healthy, ten-month-old baby there in a bed in the bedroom. But in the kitchen there were three corpses dressed in black next to a suicide note. Four children who were supposed to live in this house were missing.
What happened to those children? And who did the baby belong to? And more important? What was the reason for the suicide of the three dead? And was it actually suicide?
The great strength of “The Family Upstairs” is the great tension. It starts with the story of Libby, but then changes. There is a perspective of a woman in the South of France, but the story of a boy in that stately mansion is also told.
And tensions are increasing especially in the South of France and in that mansion. An intense subcutaneous tension. Particularly in that mansion, the atmosphere – as more residents are added – becomes narrower and more oppressive. Although it is certainly not a party in the South of France.
Such a plot with many story lines can quickly cause confusion, but that is certainly not the case here. Lisa Jewell is a master storyteller. She knows like no other how to keep the reins under control, to increase the tension and to keep an overview.
At the tip of your seat
And that makes for a story that keeps you more and more at the proverbial tip of your chair. This is a whodunnit, a whydunnit and a family saga in one. Little by little we learn more about the secrets of the residents in that mansion and what that has to do with Libby.
In addition, some characters are becoming increasingly scary. Although you sometimes do not know exactly who is good and who is bad in this story.
And that culminates in a fantastic ending in which almost all storylines are neatly tied off and sometimes also cause surprises. Although Jewell has saved just one ominous plot turn to the last. And that ensures that you close the book with a nice uncomfortable feeling. Exactly as it should be with such a dark story.
That makes ‘The Family Upstairs’ such a must. “You’re in for a treat,” one of my friends would say. Hope that “I follow you” is just as good.