He Started It by Samantha Downing #bookreview #HeStartedIt @smariedowning @MichaelJBooks

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.
But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.
It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.
But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.


Holy smokes, Samantha Downing has done it again! I was such a fan of her debut novel My Lovely Wife last year (ICYMI) so I was dying to read He Started It. Reading the second book of an author whose debut you loved can be tricky, will they be able to blow you away a second time, will they have you begging for more again? In this case, I was most certainly blown away again and I will be begging for a third book (and many more after that) until I turn blue in the face!

He Started It is anything but a carbon copy of My Lovely Wife though. It is much more of a slow burner, but never fret: I don’t mean that as a euphemism for boring AT ALL, it is super entertaining, and if you’re craving a crazy rollercoaster ride, you just wait until that last part of the story when everything you thought was true and solid collapses like a house of cards. Although, by the time I got there, I had already started to doubt everything and everyone, and I’d already had a few “wait, what?!” moments along the way as well.

At the heart of He Started It are three siblings and the story is told from the POV of the eldest sister, Beth. When Beth was twelve, her granddad took her and her siblings on a cross-country road trip, and our present-day story starts with them going on the exact same road trip. What happened is that their granddad died, leaving behind a considerable estate, and if the siblings want to inherit it, they must undertake the same road trip from their youth and deposit his ashes at the end. Seems a bit weird, a bit twisted, sure, but trust me, you don’t have a clue of exactly how weird and twisted this family is until you’ve reached that final page!

You guys, this is so the book for me! I mean, if I could commission a book, it may very well look like this one! I LOVE road trips! Both in real life and in fiction. The former because it is such a fun way to see and learn a lot in a relative short period of time, I love being in a car and looking out at the landscapes changing, going from hotel to motel, finding something new and exciting every day. The latter because it reminds me of all the things I love about road trips but adds drama and suspense. Ms Downing went the extra mile, not merely adding drama and suspense but turning both road trips into a premier psychological thriller with little reveals along the way, and a crazy, heart-stopping finale. I also loved that she mixed in a truckload of cultural references, like state mottoes and the most peculiar tourist attractions. Clearly, a lot of research went into this novel, but it is incorporated in the best way possible.

He Started It touches upon all the tropes and still comes up shiny and new. It is intriguing, twisted and twisty, sarcastic and funny, riveting and simply a top-notch psychological thriller. Highly recommended!

He Started It is out in the UK on 30 April (eBook & hardcover, with the paperback edition and the audiobook following later this year). Find it on Amazon here. My American friends will have to wait until the end of July (well worth the wait though!).

Huge thanks to Michael Joseph for the review copy! All opinions are still my own.

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