EXCERPT: The waitress approached the table . . . noting how they each sat in the same distinctive way, with their ankles locked around the front legs of their chairs, as if to prevent them from sliding away.
They didn’t hear her. They were all talking at once, their voices overlapping. They were definitely related. They even sounded similar: low,deep, husky-edged voices. People with sore throats and secrets.
‘She’s not technically missing. She sent us that text.’
‘I just can’t believe she’s not answering her phone. She always answers.’
‘Dad mentioned her new bike is gone.’
‘What? That’s bizarre.’
‘So . . . she just cycled off down the street and into the sunset?’
‘But she didn’t take her helmet. Which I find very weird.’
‘I think it’s time we reported her missing.’
‘It’s over a week now. That’s too long.’
‘Like I said, she’s not technically -‘
‘She is the very definition of missing because we don’t know where she is.’
The waitress raised her voice to the point where it was perilously close to rude. ‘Are you ready to order yet?’
They didn’t hear her.
‘Has anyone been over to the house yet?’
‘Dad told me please don’t come over. He’s “very busy”.’
‘Very busy? What’s he so busy doing?’
The waitress shuffled alongside them, in between the chairs and the wall, so that one of them might see her.
‘You know what could happen if we reported her missing?’ The better looking of the two men spoke. He wore a long sleeved linen shirt rolled up to the elbows; shorts and shoes without socks. He was in his early thirties, the waitress guessed, with a goatee and the low-level charismatic charm of a reality star or a real estate agent. ‘They’d suspect Dad.’
‘Suspect Dad of what?’ asked the other man, a shabbier, chunkier, cheaper version of the first. Instead of a goatee, he just needed a shave.
‘That he . . . you know.’ The expensive version brother drew his finger across his neck.
The waitress went very still. This was the best conversation she’d overheard since she’d started waitressing.
‘Jesus, Troy.’ The cheaper version brother exhaled. ‘That’s not funny.’
The other man shrugged. ‘The police will ask if they argued. Dad said they did argue.’
‘But surely – ‘
‘Maybe Dad did have something to do with it,’ said the youngest of the four, a woman wearing a short orange dress dotted with white daisies over a swimsuit knotted at the neck. Her hair was dyed blue (the waitress coveted that exact shade), and it was tied back in a sticky, wet, tangled knot at her neck. There was a fine sheen of sandy sunscreen on her arms as if she’d just that moment walked off the beach, even though they were at least a forty minute drive from the coast. ‘Maybe he snapped. Maybe he finally snapped.’
ABOUT ‘APPLES NEVER FALL’: The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .
If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?
This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.
The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?
The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.
One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.
Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.
MY THOUGHTS: Apples Never Fall is an excellent family drama/mystery that delves into family dynamics with disarming honesty and more than a little humour. I laughed as I recognized shades of myself and my three brothers in these conversations. Even Savannah was startlingly familiar. Though the cuckoo in our nest was called Sharilyn, and she was far more benign than Savannah.
Moriarty has a definite talent for characterisation. Her characters are vibrant and alive, and tend to leap off the page and move into your life for the duration of the book. This, combined with her devious mind which conjures up intriguing mysteries, guarantees a read that just can’t be put down.
Like an onion, the layers of the Delaney family are peeled back one by one, revealing their insecurities, their resentments, their petty jealousies, their disappointments, their fears. Like most families, they have wallpapered over the cracks in their lives, given up on their dreams, settled for second best, all the time telling themselves that it’s just life, that this is the reality of adulthood. But when Savannah intrudes and Joy goes missing, the plasters are ripped off, the wounds and battle scars exposed for all to see. There are some shocking revelations and surprises!
Although the mystery of Joy’s disappearance is always there, it is not the main focus of the story. It is merely a vehicle for the dissection of a family unit under pressure; an examination of their values, their loyalties, their coping strategies. I would be interested to learn if Brooke ever has another migraine.
Apples Never Fall had me laughing and, at one point, snivelling into a fistful of tissues. Moriarty put my emotions through the wringer. Apples Never Fall is an irresistible read. It’s charming, and surprising, just what I have come to expect from one of my favourite authors.
What I wasn’t expecting was that final chapter. Stunning!
I: #lianemoriarty @macmillanaus
T: #LianeMoriarty @MacmillanAus
#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery
THE AUTHOR: She lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. When she’s not writing she can be found reading, demanding coffee, being taken for a brisk walk by her Labrador, skiing like she’s thirty years younger than she is, recovering from skiing injuries, talking to old friends about getting old, and begging her children for help with technology.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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