Cover Image: The Family Tree

The Family Tree

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Member Reviews

I received an advance copy of, The Family Tree, by Steph Mullin: Nicole Mabry.  Imagine you take a dna test, and find out your adopted, Crazy right, and then you find out you have a serial killer in your family.  This book was so good.
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This book has left me divided in my opinion. Yes it is a good storyline and the returning to past periods to determine how the taken girls felt and what happened to them was interesting. However the main character Liz was so annoying I almost gave up reading solely because of her unrealistic behaviour. FBI agents do not give away information regarding an ongoing case and then the person they give this information too, just decides to  share it with a journalist and the they decides to ignore the agents warning and decides to catch the criminal themself. This was just to unbelievable and ruined what could have been an outstanding book.
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You cannot rely on what you think you know, the shocks and twists hit you full force even though you’re expecting one to come and I defy you to be able to put this down once you’ve started!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book ,it was gripping ,a real page turner and a little bit scary .Liz goes searching for her Birth Family after finding out she is adopted and then her whole world is turned upside down when the FBI turn up and inform her that her DNA is related to a serial killer they are still trying to catch  ! Wow I wondered how I would feel ,very scared I think .The story is very well written ,very suspenseful and the ending was a shock .Many thanks to the Publisher the Author and NetGalley for my copy in return for an honest review .
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This is the story of Liz Catalino who lives with her cousin Andie. Andie buys Liz a 23&Me DNA kit as a present. As a result Liz starts a quest to discover who her biological family are. One day Liz gets a call from the FBI to ask for her help as they have discovered that she is related to the serial killer known as as the Tri-State Killer who has been abducting pairs of women for 40 years. Liz who is a wannabe journalist is determined to find out who is the killer.

I felt like this book was written just for me. My hobby is geneology and a couple of years ago I decided to do a DNA test myself to help with my research. I was really nervous about what I might discover. Thankfully I haven’t discovered anything terrible. I really enjoyed reading about Liz and how she dealt with the devastating consequences of her DNA test. This book was a fast paced, fun and easy to read story although I did find it slowed down at the 70% mark. I am not quite sure how believable it was but I enjoyed the story overall. I will definitely be looking out for more by this author.
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This book should come with a warning because once you pick it up you are going to find it near impossible to put it down... well I certainly did it was a brilliant read!
This story gave a chilling and disturbing edge to the read making it so damn hard to put down. Finally put it down at 2am.
The story is compelling as Liz after finding she is adopted is trying to connect with her birth family only to find someone in this family could be a serial killer I completely enjoyed it.
Fully recommend if you want a book to keep you up.
My thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for giving me the chance to read this book.
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Last year I read a book which had DNA testing as a central theme. A few months later I had been recounting the plot to my wife and we had a conversation about the increase of DNA testing and how the process was now accessible to so many people these days. Many commercial operations have the ability let people know more about their roots than has ever been possible in the past. This can lead to unexpected discoveries, people have been learning the people they believed to be their parents or their siblings are actually an adoptive family and not their natural birth family.

I had never considered the implications of this, however, through her work my wife had become aware of charities who provide support or counselling for people who find out accidentally that their families adopted them.  It was literally the next day I began reading The Family Tree and met Liz Catalano – she and her cousin had completed an ancestry test only for Liz to discover she did not share any relatives in common with her cousin. Liz was understandably traumatized by this discovery and my conversations with my wife gave me deeper appreciation around how Liz’s world had been turned upside down.

Liz wants answers, she needs to understand where her roots lie and it puts a real strain upon the relationship she has with the people she believed to be her parents.  This part of the story is beautifully represented by Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry as the reader cannot help but feel empathy for the situation Liz finds herself experiencing and the horror and anguish of her parents who lost the ability to share this information with their daughter in the manner of their choosing. The fact they waited and never told Liz of her background is addressed and it’s easy to understand why families put off such a big conversation.  Liz and her parents are a family and although Liz does understand this, there is a feeling of betrayal and curiosity of the unknown which will drive her actions through the story in The Family Tree.

Liz uploads her DNA to a national database in a bid to find more familial links and hoping to trace her natural parents.  This act of sharing her DNA triggers a whole new problem for Liz.  Her DNA is a close match for DNA which the police have been monitoring as it looks like Liz may be related to a killer – the notorious Tri-State Killer who has evaded authorities for over 20 years.  The authorities will be knocking on Liz’s door, they want to know more about her but the information they need (Liz’s family history) is something she herself does not know.

The Tri-State Killer has been active for many years and is a notorious and dangerous predator.  He abducts two women in one event every couple of years.  The women remain missing for many months before, ulitmately, their bodies are discovered dumped and scrubbed clean.

I loved how the authors addressed the Tri-State Killer in the story.  We take a jump back into the past to read about the first two women abducted, readers see how their killer managed to gain entrance to their apartment and how he was able to subdue them both. The story then returned to Liz and her endeavours to trace her family – it is progressing and she believes she may have found her grandparents.  Then back to the Tri-State Killer and we pick up the narrative on what happens to the abducted girls after the killer has them at this mercy.  But this time it isn’t the first two girls who were abducted but the third and fourth! A delightful twist which brought home the impact of the killer’s actions and a pattern which repeats through the book.  Each time we return to the story of the killer it is viewed through the eyes of the women he has abducted, a different pair of women each time.  The fifth and sixth women, then the seventh and eighth and so on.  Each time we return to Liz and her discussions with the family she never knew only to return to two new abductees.  We know their fate and we know more women will be abducted – it’s compelling and it’s grim but it makes for great reading.

I flew through The Family Tree in super quick time.  The switching narrative between past and present made me want to keep reading.  Liz may be related to a killer but she and the investigators cannot know who that killer may be.  She continues to meet with members of her new family (despite warnings to be careful) and she puts herself at risk each time.  But Liz wants to know the truth about her natural parents and she also wants to help identify a killer – but what if she destroys her new family in the process?

I never tire of finding wonderful gems like The Family Tree to read. I really enjoyed this one and it’s due for release in just a few weeks – highly recommend getting this ordered. It spins an emotive drama around a dark serial killer story and the writing just flows to keep those pages turning.
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I feel like I should first state that this is a multiple POV read. Something that I greatly love and is done really well, but I was surprised to see that it’s written by multiple authors! There’s no break in the narrative or completely different styles, the book just flows from one page to the next.

A really great story that is unfortunately backed by a slightly annoying protagonist - just like when watching a horror movie and you say “what on earth are they thinking?!”. 

I can’t imagine finding out I’m actually adopted and to then find out I’m related to a serial killer in suspect of currently being active? God knows how I would behave! But I’d say certainly not as irrationally as our main character.

This is a read in one big chunk before bed type of book. I was fully immersed and loved the way the story of those kidnapped flowed so we weren’t reading the same premise over and over again.
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Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer.

This book follows Liz catalano's journey to discover that she is adopted and may have links to a serial killer. The book alternates in chapters between Liz in the present day and the serial killers activities in the past. As a device this works well.. 

The story has twist at the end that you don't expect.
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A unique and chilling thriller. It had me hooked and I stayed up through the night to finish it, Such a good read.
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When Liz gets her genetic test results back not only does she find out she's adopted but also there is a serial killer in her new family. As Liz unravels the mystery of who in her family could possibly be a still active serial killer she also has to come to terms with the fact she's adopted. I thought this book was going to be slow but a couple chapters in the book starts taking off and leads you into the mystery of is her uncle a serial killer or not. This book keeps you guessing until the very thrilling ending. I ended up really liking this book. It was a quick read and kept you very captivated. I definitely recommend reading!
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Date reviewed/posted: May 3, 2021
Publication date: June 10 2021

When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave ( #fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

The DNA results are back. And there’s a serial killer in her family tree…

Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer…

The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind – only bodies.

Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it’s too late?

And I thought that MY ANCESTRY DNA RESULTS WERE LOADED...I will leave it at that. That is the problem - you go looking for something and you find something else...something sinister. Liz is a pip, that is for sure, and I love her pluckiness and desire to stop another victim's death. The book is entrhralling and wonderfully written to keep the suspense going on and on and I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, bookclubs and strangers on the tube who are reading: I find that once they figure out that I am a Canadian and not a Trump-loving MAGA-idiot they like to discuss books. (lol!)

Take this book to the beach (or your back yard, porch or balcony) and enjoy it  - just wear a tonne of SPF110 as you will lose track of time as you read this. - If we are in the 5th or 6th wave/mutation of COVID19 by then, stay inside: no tan is worth dying for.  #maddogsandenglishmen

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube  Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🏖️🏖️🏖️🏖️🏖️
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It seems everyone these days is getting their DNA tested to find out “where they come from”. But what if your test results yielded something you never wanted to know? Liz Catalano thinks her biggest shock is discovering she was adopted, but that’s the least of her worries. When she attempts to contact her biological family, she’s thrown into an active investigation into a serial killer who’s been hunting for four decades. Being adopted is no big deal, being related to a serial killer is something else. I liked this book so much because it was so original; it kept me on the edge of my seat from page one
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As a fan of True Crime I was excited to receive the ARC for The Family Tree. The book is actually written by two authors which is very unusual but it isn’t noticeable at all within the prose – there’s a strong and consistent narrative voice and I’d be really interested to learn more about their writing process. 

The book alternates perspectives between Liz who wants to find out the truth about her biological family and victims of the Tri-State Killer who are abducted in pairs. The victim chapters are really creepy and engaging - we only get one chapter per pairing and it was great to see a throwback to other victims mentioned as the killer changed his MO based on previous mistakes or they found a remnant of one of the previous girls. We started off getting flashbacks of them being abducted, then this moved to their capture and then some of the last chapters had how he dealt with them at the very end. These chapters were very moving but also a great way to keep the pace and the tension high as well as dropping a few hints about who the killer could be as the story moved along. Even though you knew that these crimes took place a long time in the past you still found yourself routing for the girls in the flashbacks.

The plot did keep me guessing and the end reveal did honestly surprise me which was nice. There are enough hints as to make a few people viable suspects and I enjoyed being kept off-balance. I also really liked the twist at the end although I would have liked it to have been someone that we already knew - my guess was going to be either Michael, one of our ruled-out suspects or someone related to her biological father and any of these would have been a really good twist to the story! There are a couple of things that after the ending of the book no longer make sense with hindsight that were just used to cast doubt on some of the characters.

My main issue with the book was the main character Liz, who came across more as a stroppy teenage girl in places than a woman in her late 20s. She is very self-centred and irritating, yelling at everyone and using the excuse ‘I’ve just found out I’ve been adopted’ for all of her bad behaviour and anger issues. She also makes some truly awful decisions which made me so frustrated with her I had to put my Kindle down in places. Some of the choices that she made (particularly talking to the reporter, not disclosing things to the FBI and heading off to the final destination on her own) were not only stupid decisions that put her life in danger but also things that could have really impacted the investigation and may have meant they wouldn’t have been able to convict the criminal when the case went to trial.

My only other small point on this book is that it is very much inspired and based on the true crime story of The Golden State Killer which is one of the most famous American crime stories and is currently in the news as the trial has just finished. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Golden State Killer had been committing murders and burglaries since 1973 and was recently caught due to an unknowing relative uploading their 23andMe DNA results to law enforcers via GEDMatch. There are other similarities in the stories such as the acronym for the killer and the feisty female reporter who had committed her life to solving the mystery (much like the real-life Michelle McNamara). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and it is such a fantastic story that using it to base a novel around seems ideal but nowhere in the acknowledgments is the case mentioned. The authors even say that they came up with it as part of a late-night discussion where one said, ‘something about 23andMe – Go!’  This seems very disingenuous and would be spotted by any true-crime fan a mile away – there’s nothing wrong with admitting you were inspired by a real-life case! 

Overall, The Family Tree is a creepy, twisty thriller inspired by a real case – it’s just a pity about the unrelatable and frustrating main character.  Thank you to NetGalley & Avon Books UK for the chance to read the book in exchange for an honest review.
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What an utterly engrossing thrill ride The Family Tree proved to be! You'll find you can't turn the pages fast enough in this entertaining book from Mullin and Mabry. The plot is definitely one you can believe in the times we live in. While DNA testing is commonplace now, learning you're related to a serial killer is most definitely not. The book alternates chapters dealing with the main character and those dealing with the victims of the killer. I found those with the latter to be the stronger ones in the book. The main character is exasperating at times because she says/does things which are as crazy as the victims in a campy horror film. Still, she stays true to herself throughout the entire book. It is a commendable crime debut from this writing duo. Thank you to Avon Books, HarperCollins, and NetGalley for the advanced reading copy! #TheFamilyTree #NetGalley
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Edge of your seat thriller a book that kept me reading late into the night.A dna test turns up a serial killer in the family so tense so chilling.An author I will be following and recommending,#netgalley#avonbooksuj
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A refreshingly original plot in an easy writing style that did nothing to compromise what was also a chilling story line.
In fact, it was so well written that at 88% of the book, I wouldn't have minded if it didn't close with a twist  However, there it was in the final pages and was enough to leave me even more impressed.
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Thank you NetGalley and Avon Books UK for the opportunity to review this one 

First and foremost I want to say that the novel was really original. The idea of combining true crime, fiction
and also the complexity of adoption was wonderful. 
I found that the story is very creepy (in a good way). 

Sadly I can't say that I felt that it was gripping enough but it was flowing and a good read. 
Would recommend this to anyone who is interested in true crime and crime novels in general.
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Wow, this was a rollercoaster of a read which I devoured in one day.

This had me hooked from the outset . Dark tale, plenty of twists and turns, totally gripping.

Thoroughly recommended.
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Liz jokingly uploads her DNA onto a testing site, only to get the shock of her life when she realizes she was adopted. As she sets out on a quest to discover more about her biological family, she also finds herself embroiled in an investigation into a serial killer in her family line. 

This was a very interesting read, both a story of self-discovery as well as a thriller. It was told in dual points of view, that of Lizzie, as well as a look into what the victims of the killer went through over the years, tying together neatly at the end! 

And that epilogue was a true cliffhanger!! Great read, highly recommended.
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