You know the kind of mystery where the explanation comes pouring out at the end in great detail and you, the reader, gnash your teeth because there was no way on Earth you could have solved it because you didn't have all of the facts? Well, Benjamin Stevenson's narrator, Ernest Cunningham, promises he will not do that to you. And he doesn't.
As he tells the story of a string of deaths that take place before and during a family trip to a ski resort, he lays out all the clues. He highlights clues. He reminds us of previous clues. And yet .... good luck solving this. It's incredibly convoluted.
"Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone" opens when Ernest is awakened by his brother Michael, who needs his help; he has a corpse in the back of his car and he needs to dispose of it.
Ernest helps him and then goes straight to the cops. Michael ends up in prison. Ernest ends up ostracized.
From there, the book jumps ahead a few years to the family reunion. Michael arrives fresh from prison — and with Ernest's estranged wife — just as a blizzard hits. And then folks start dying.
Stevenson takes a glib tone with the voice of Ernest, who breaks the fourth wall repeatedly, telling us on which page the next murder will take place, reminding us of details he has already told us. He's not a particularly likable narrator — nobody in the book is particularly likable — but he's entertaining and flippant. On page 313, he solves the mystery but doesn't tell us the answer right away — instead, he gives us one more chance, laying out the crucial clues, including "vomit," "a jacket" and "a dead pigeon."
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone
By: Benjamin Stevenson.
Publisher: Mariner Books, 384 pages, $28.99.