Meet Ernest Cunningham, "Ern," the narrator of Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone. Ern is the self-published author of numerous books telling others how to write crime fiction. He begins with Ronald Knox's 1929 Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction. Knox was a Catholic Priest and member of the legendary Detection Club. Other members included Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton. You should take a look at them, as they are essential.
Ern is attending a family reunion at a ski lodge in the mountains of New South Wales, AU. He never looks forward to reunions because he has always felt like an outsider. This reunion promises to be particularly fraught as Ern's brother, Michael, is getting out of prison after a stretch for murder. Ern happens to be the person who testified and put Michael there. The Cunninghams are unhappy with Ern, not his mother, Audrey, and her husband, Marcello, not Michael's ex-wife, Lucy, not Ern's soon-to-be ex-wife, Erin, or his managing Aunt Katherine. The only one who seems happy to see him is his half-sister, Sofia. That may be because she needs money and somehow knows about the bag containing 267 thousand dollars Ern has been holding onto for Michael. Soon after their arrival, a body is found, the victim of a particularly horrible death. Very quickly, the lodge is snowed in, and the temperatures drop precipitously. Not only is the snow falling, but so are the Cunninghams. Is there a serial killer loose known as The Black Tongue? Can one of the Cunninghams be the killer, or is someone seeking revenge for Ern's father, Robert, and his notorious criminal past? People don't often forget about cop-killers, even if they are long dead.
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is one of the most original pieces of crime fiction I have ever read; horrifying and hilarious at once. Anyone who has read Golden Age mysteries will recognize all the tropes of the snowed-in scenario but with a new spin. Stevenson's Ern has a terrific "voice," sly, ironic, and likable. I was suspicious of his claim to be a reliable narrator, but that is what he proved to be. I don't expect to read another book this year that will engage me as much as Everyone in my Family has engaged me.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
RATING- 5 Stars