Cape Times

Multilayer­ed family drama

- | THE WASHINGTON POST

Liane Moriarty Loot.co.za (R487) HENRY HOLT & COMPANY, INC.

WHO knew there were so many tennis metaphors for life? Novelist

Liane Moriarty shares them all and probably creates a few of her own in Apples Never Fall.

The novel opens with a sibling quartet in a cafe, trying to find out where their mother could be. She sent a cryptic text to them all and hasn’t been seen for days.

She isn’t replying to messages or answering her phone. The narrative then jumps back and forth from the present to “September”, the month of Joy’s disappeara­nce.

We’re quickly introduced to a mystery character, Savannah, who shows up at the Delaneys’ door one night with a “fresh, deep cut just beneath her right eyebrow”. Joy invites her in and mothers her to the point where she’s soon eating casserole and spending the night in Amy’s childhood bed.

We’re also treated to chapters from the perspectiv­e of Detective Senior Constable Christina Khoury and her partner, who at the request of two of the Delaney children are now investigat­ing Joy as a “missing person”. Her interviews with all the key characters are intercut with flashbacks to September as the authoritie­s try to piece together the puzzle.

Moriarty goes deep into each character’s head as we learn all about their lives and relationsh­ips.

Forgive the metaphor, but it’s irresistib­le – you feel like you’re reading a tennis match, turning your head left, right, left, right, as the story unspools.

Moriarty is very good at constructi­ng plot, dribbling out details that resurface chapters later to create “aha” moments.

But what makes Apples Never Fall a real pleasure to read, and elevates it a little above Moriarty’s two most recent bestseller­s are the insights into the complexity of family relationsh­ips.

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