Category Archives: The Mother-in-Law

Review: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Title: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 347 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A twisty, compelling new novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.


The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth is an enthralling domestic mystery.

Lucy Goodwin’s hopes of a close relationship with her mother-in-law Diana are dashed long before her marriage to Ollie.  After they are married, Lucy feels like she does not live up to her somewhat cold and standoffish mother-in-law’s expectations. Over the years, Lucy remains cordial with her and although they are not close, she does appreciate the effort Diana makes with her and Ollie’s three children.  When her mother-in-law dies under mysterious circumstances, Lucy, Ollie, his sister, Nettie and her husband, Patrick, are the subject of intense police scrutiny. Considering the complex history between her and her mother-in-law, does Lucy know more about Diana’s death than she is revealing?

Lucy is a stay-at-home mum to Edie, Harriet and Archie. She and Ollie are quite happy despite the long hours he works at his business. Their relationship with his extended family members has gone through its ups and downs over the years.  Things have been somewhat tense between them at the time of Diana’s death, but tragedy pulls them together.  Lucy is concerned about Nettie but she is mainly focused on discovering what Ollie is not telling her.

Diana is a complicated woman who is devoted to her charitable work with pregnant refugees. She is quite pragmatic and although she loves her children, she believes they should stand on their own two feet. Her beloved husband, Tom, is a soft touch and Ollie and Nettie know how to get around their mother’s refusal to help them.  When her life takes an unexpected turn, will she temper her responses to Ollie’s and Nettie’s pleas for assistance?

The Mother-in-Law is a multi-layered mystery that weaves back and forth in time and unfolds from different perspectives.  Each chapter proves to be quite illuminating while at the same time revealing the increasing stress between the various characters. The police investigation heightens the suspense since they remain very tight-lipped about what they have discovered about Diana’s death. Sally Hepworth builds the tension to a fever pitch as this engrossing mystery hurtles to a shocking conclusion. An absolutely spellbinding novel that readers of the genre will not want to miss.

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Filed under 1980s, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Sally Hepworth, St Martin's Press, Suspense, The Mother-in-Law