Her Father’s Daughter by T. M. Dunn Review

Her Father’s Daughter by T. M. Dunn, an emotionally-engaging and creatively crafted domestic thriller, sometimes shocking and thoroughly riveting. Read my full review.

Her Father’s Daughter Synopsis

Twenty-five-year-old Linda Donovan has spent her life working for her father, Anthony, at Donovan and Daughter Exterminators in New York City. On the anniversary of her mother’s death, her father makes his annual visit to his late wife’s grave while Linda heads to a Park Avenue apartment building to work solo.

When she arrives, she finds the body of an elderly resident, partially eaten by rats. The gruesome death not only speaks poorly of the Donovans’ exterminating services–it also points to foul play. When the cops show up, they demand to speak to Linda’s father. But despite her efforts to contact him, Anthony has gone off the radar.

As he evades a possible murder charge, Linda’s father records in five notebooks–and five damning acts–the story of how he met and fell in love with her mother, a previously untold history of familial abuse, tormented souls, and true love gone terribly wrong.

Crooked Lane Books (2023)

Genre(s) Thriller & Suspense

T. M. Dunn | Pub Date Jul 18, 2023| ISBN 9781639103270 | 272 Pages

Book Review

I requested Her Father’s Daughter for review because the book summary appealed to me and expected it was a crime thriller. It’s not. It’s more a domestic thriller, but that was fine. Dunn, a capable storyteller, cleverly plots the book in almost a circular way. We start near the end before moving back in time. The book unfolds from two first person viewpoints, that of Linda Donovan, the protagonist, and that of her father, Anthony, and the viewpoints switch back and forth. The opening prologue tells us a little of Anthony’s history before we meet Linda in the first chapter.

Twenty-five-year-old Linda Donovan has spent her life working with her father, Anthony, in their pest control business in New York City. But Linda, recently offered a scholarship, is planning to leave home for college soon. While she’s eager to go, she can’t help but worry about how her father will keep the business going without her. Linda’s mother had committed suicide shortly after her birth, and Anthony is the only parent she has ever known. Anthony, who seems from the outset to have a preoccupation with death, has always taken Linda with him to visit her mother’s grave site each year on the anniversary of her mother’s death. But when their main and most profitable client calls with a pest control emergency, instead of accompanying her father on the annual cemetery visit, Linda heads to an upscale Park Avenue apartment building to handle the emergency solo. There she discovers the body of an elderly resident, partially eaten by a rat. And when the police arrive, they suspect foul play. In the course of the police investigation, Anthony becomes a murder suspect and goes on the lam. And because of the investigation, some disturbing secrets about Linda’s father come to light. Linda soon learns the “family business” her father inherited from his father and grandfather and hopes to pass on to her has nothing to do with their exterminator business. The reader learns about Anthony’s past long before his daughter does. So, the primary tension develops from how Linda will react when she learns the truth about her father and his history and what will happen when she does.

I’m not sure how much I enjoyed, as such, reading this book. But I concede it’s good, nonetheless. And yes, I believe it’s possible to recognize and acknowledge that a book is good without liking it. It is exceedingly clever plotting and confronting in terms of social commentary. And there was much I loved about it. As an example, the lead character Linda drew me in, though she’s not altogether likeable. But she is easy to get to know and feel empathy for. Also, there were plenty of humorous moments in the book, which I appreciated. And despite how much or little I enjoyed reading the book, it is riveting in the sense the story kept me engaged and wanting to know more. Finally, the way Dunn wraps up the story makes sense.

I think this is a book you want to talk about after finishing it, so I expect it would be a great novel for a book club as it lends itself to discussion. But Her Father’s Daughter isn’t your usual crime or psychological thriller. As long as you don’t approach it with that expectation, as I admittedly did, you may find this a very entertaining read. While it isn’t horror, those who enjoy Stephen King’s brand of suspense would probably enjoy this novel.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.

Book rating: ★★★★

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