DEAD LETTERS by Caite Dolan-Leach


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No one knows Zelda Antipova better than her identical twin. So Ava is naturally suspicious when she hears Zelda has burned to death in their barn—just the kind of death she would have planned herself.

Ava leaves her home in Paris, her boyfriend, and her doctoral research on Edgar Allan Poe and the OuLiPo movement—writers obsessed with mysteries and literary games—to pick up the pieces of her family in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Antipova family is not known for keeping their acts together, what with their faltering vineyard and the alcoholism riddling the veins of every member, not to mention the dementia that keeps Nadine, Ava and Zelda’s mother, housebound, drunk, and popping pills. Marlon, the twins’ father and Nadine’s ex, has dutifully arrived as well, leaving his new family behind at his own, successful, vineyard. Despite having been absent for the past two years after a falling-out with her sister over Wyatt—her high school love, who pined long enough for relationship-shy Ava to fall briefly into flamboyant Zelda’s arms—Ava falls back into old habits, toying with Wyatt and swilling wine with her family. While searching Zelda’s Airstream trailer (conveniently located on the family property but far enough from the crumbling manse for a little privacy), however, Ava discovers a burner phone that Zelda left behind, and soon she’s getting messages from beyond the grave via email, newspaper, Facebook, and Instagram. Perhaps Zelda’s not dead after all, and she’s set up an elaborate game for her beloved Ava, a heroine rich with wry, self-deprecating insights. But as she plays her sister’s game, she comes face to face with raw, harrowing reality. In this, her startling debut novel, Dolan-Leach nimbly entwines the clever mystery of Agatha Christie, the wit of Dorothy Parker, and the inebriated Gothic of Eugene O’Neill.

A sharp, wrenching tale of the true love only twins know.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-58885-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2016


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