“Quick-witted and fast-paced, this debut mystery should be a hit with Gone Girl fans.” —People magazine
"This is an all-nighter . . . The best debut mystery I've read in a long time."—Tana French
“A really gutsy, clever, energetic read, often unexpected, always entertaining. I loved Janie Jenkins’s sassy voice and Elizabeth Little’s too. In the world of crime novels, Dear Daughter is a breath of fresh air.” —Kate Atkinson, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life
A sensational debut thriller featuring an unforgettable heroine who just might have murdered her mother
Former “It Girl” Janie Jenkins is sly, stunning, and fresh out of prison. Ten years ago, at the height of her fame, she was incarcerated for the murder of her mother, a high-society beauty known for her good works and rich husbands. Now, released on a technicality, Janie makes herself over and goes undercover, determined to chase down the one lead she has on her mother’s killer. The only problem? Janie doesn’t know if she’s the killer she’s looking for.
Janie makes her way to an isolated South Dakota town whose mysteries rival her own. Enlisting the help of some new friends (and the town’s wary police chief), Janie follows a series of clues—an old photograph, an abandoned house, a forgotten diary—and begins to piece together her mother’s seemingly improbable connection to the town. When new evidence from Janie’s own past surfaces, she’s forced to consider the possibility that she and her mother were more alike than either of them would ever have imagined.
As she digs tantalizingly deeper, and as suspicious locals begin to see through her increasingly fragile facade, Janie discovers that even the sleepiest towns hide sinister secrets—and will stop at nothing to guard them. On the run from the press, the police, and maybe even a murderer, Janie must choose between the anonymity she craves and the truth she so desperately needs.
A gripping, electrifying debut novel with an ingenious and like-it-or-not sexy protagonist, Dear Daughter follows every twist and turn as Janie unravels the mystery of what happened the night her mother died—whatever the cost.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Little
As soon as they processed my release, Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.
Oh, I thought I was so clever.
But you probably already know that I’m not.
I mean, come on, you didn’t really think I was just going to disappear, did you? That I would skulk off and live in the shadows? That maybe I would find a distant island, a plastic surgeon, a white ceramic half mask and a Punjab lasso? Get real.
But I never meant for it to come to this. There’s attention and then there’s attention, and sure, the latter gets you fame and money and free designer shoes, but I’m not Lindsay Lohan. I understand the concept of declining marginal returns. It was the not knowing—that’s what I couldn’t stand. That’s why I’m here.
Did you know that the more you remember, the more you expand your perception of personal time? No, really. There’s, like, studies and shit. Even though we can’t outrun death, if we muscle up our memories the race, at least, will seem a little longer. That is, we’ll still die, but we’ll have lived more. Kind of comforting, right?
Unless, of course, you’re me.
Imagine how it would feel if, out of the blue, someone were to hand you a gold medal and tell you it was yours. Oh my god, you’d think. I am so super awesome! I won the Olympics. But, wait-what did I win? When did I win it? When did I train? Shouldn't my biceps be full-on Madonna? How could I possibly forget the defining moment of my life?
And what does it mean that I did?
Now imagine that instead of a gold medal you were given a murder conviction, and you'll have some sense of how it is for me.
When I think back on the night my mother died, it's like trying to adjust a pair of rabbit ears to pick up a distant broadcast signal. Every so often something comes into focus, but mostly I just get the scrape sound of static, an impenetrable wall of snow. Sometimes there isn't even a picture. Sometimes there isn't even a TV. Maybe if I'd had a moment to stop and think that morning I might've had the chance to imprint a useful detail or two, but the police hustled me out of the house and into a cruiser and over to the station before I could even think to worry about what I was wearing, much less what I might have done. By lunchtime I was in an interview room picking dried blood out from under my fingernails while two detectives explained what they wanted me to write in my confession.
Not that I blame them. I was always going to be the best story. Next was the trial, which didn't have anything to do with what I knew but rather with what other people had decided I knew, and soon enough I lost the ability to tell the difference between them. And now I 'm stuck with a mess of a memory, a hodgepodge of angry testimony, sanctimonious magazine profiles, made-for-TV movies-less linear narrative than True Hollywood Story highlight reel. I don't know what's mine anymore.
And then there's the evidence. The only fingerprints in my mother 's room: mine. The only DNA under my mother's nails: probably mine. The only name written in blood next to my mother's body: definitely mine.
(That's right. You probably didn't know that part, did you?)
It 's hard enough to maintain your innocence when so many people are so sure you're not. It 's impossible when you're not sure of anything at all-other than the awful, inescapable fact that you hadn't particu larly liked your own mother.
The uncertainty ate at me, maggots mashing the already-decaying corpse of my brain. And in jail, isolated from any real means of investigation, all I could do was wonder. I began to treat every action of every day like an omen, a crystal ball, a goat's intestines. How would a killer brush her teeth? How would a killer brush her hair? Would she take sugar in her coffee? Milk in her tea? Would she knot her shoelaces once? Twice?
Totally kidding. Like they would have given me shoelaces.
Of all the challenges of incarceration, this was perhaps the worst: I was a fundamentally rational creature reduced to rudimentary divination. I promised myself that if I ever got out I'd try to find out what really happened, to find out what I really was.
I ignored the voice that said killing again was the only way I'd ever know for sure.
Messages Noah Contact
Tuesday 5:14 PM
Testing. Is the new phone working? Did you get this? (It’s Noah.)
What the fuck is this
It’s called text messaging.
I know what it is I just don’t know why we’re doing it
I need to make sure I can reach you.
What people don’t actually talk anymore
Welcome to the future.
Can I go back to jail now
Adapt or die, Jane.
What People are Saying About This
“When former It Girl Janie Jenkins is released from prison, she embarks on a mission to discover if it was really she who murdered her mother. The debut novel’s twists will easily hook you, but it’s the narrator’s dark wit and sharp observations that make this a truly fun read.”
“Little keeps you guessing until the end — and then closes her book with a final, twisted flourish.”
—Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe
“Compelling. . . . This novel's engrossing suspense comes from its unreliable (and not especially likable) narrator who pursues answers with relentless fervor, regardless of the painful truths she turns up about herself. . . . Excellent.”
—Stephanie Klose, Oprah.com
“Engrossing. . . The unlikable protagonist with a biting personality and outrageous actions, but who is fascinating at the same time, has never been more popular. Just think of Gone Girl. In her confident fiction debut, Elizabeth Little puts a fresh spin on this character in the form of Jane Jenkins, a young woman famous for being famous until she was sent to prison for the murder of her wealthy socialite mother. Little also makes Dear Daughter a parable about the cult of the celebrity stoked by a relentless press and a ruthless public’s thirst for details of a woman it loves to hate.”
“This is not your mother’s mystery. The clever, prickly and profane heroine is, after all, a former It Girl whose aim as a teen was to be the next Paris Hilton, only better. . . . Sassy and lively. . . . The book’s satisfying conclusion somehow manages to tie things up while also providing a cliffhanger, a pretty neat trick for a debut novel.”
—Colleen Kelly, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The best debut crime novel of 2014, a spiky, voicey, jolting, surprising story of a celebutante convicted of murdering her mother . . . Little also produces one of the best endings of 2014, too.” —Sarah Weinman, The National Post (Canada)
“A former It Girl hunts down her mom’s murderer in this can’t-put-down thriller.”
“Do you want a mystery novel that you can stay up all night reading and then take to the beach to finish it off the next day? Elizabeth Little’s Dear Daughter is pretty much all you need: the tale of a former high society girl who gets out of prison and goes on a mission to find out who really killed her mother.”
—Flavorwire (Must-Read Books for August)
“In prison for her mother’s murder, L.A. socialite Jane Jenkins is released on a technicality. To track down the real killer Jane gets plain, goes underground and stirs up dangerous amounts of dirt in her mom’s South Dakota hometown.”
“[A] fun and riveting debut mystery.”
—The San Diego Union Tribune
“Part celebrity, part sleuth and all sass, the memorable Janie Jenkins is out to prove she didn't murder her mother in this smart debut thriller. . . . Little drives Dear Daughter with the string of surprises and buried secrets revealed as Janie unravels the mystery of her mother's past. It is a thriller much like Gillian Flynn's blockbuster Gone Girlexcept instead of the East Coast literary angst of Flynn's protagonists stuck in Missouri, Little's Midwest visitor really does have L.A. ‘glitter in her veins.’”
“Little makes a thrilling debut with this gripping read. Fans of Tana French and Gillian Flynn are going to enjoy the smart narrator and the twists and turns in the case.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Agatha Christie meets Kim Kardashian in this sharp-edged, tart-tongued, escapist thriller. . . A stylishly written tale that plays off our culture's obsession with celebrity scandal.”
“Stunning and chilling. . . . A harrowing story that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. The ending is like a punch in the nose, coming out of nowhere and leaving readers breathless. Whether you take this mystery to the beach or relax in front of your air conditioner, this is a novel you should not miss.”
“Clever. . . . This is a killer debut, in every sense of the word!”
“[An] assured fiction debut . . . Little effectively intersperses outside perspective in the form of emails, text messages, and other communications in Jane’s entertainingly caustic first-person narrative.”
“Janie keeps them all guessing . . . An unusual protagonist who will intrigue readers who favor strong, smart women.”
“A really gutsy, clever, energetic read, often unexpected, always entertaining. I loved Janie Jenkins’s sassy voice and Elizabeth Little’s too. In the world of crime novels, Dear Daughter is a breath of fresh air.”
—Kate Atkinson, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life
“Dear Daughter has three of my favorite things in a book: a smart, damaged, unstoppable narrator with a slicing sense of humor; needle-sharp writing that brings characters and atmosphere leaping off the page; and a vivid, original plot full of satisfying twists. This is an all-nighter, and the best debut mystery I've read in a long time.” —Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of Broken Harbor and In the Woods
“Clever, original, and darkly witty, Dear Daughter’s many twists will keep you on your toes as you fall under the spell of its unapologetic, whip-smart narrator.”
—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia
“What a devilish, delightful treat of a novel! Crackling with wit and shining with originality, Dear Daughter is the kind of whirlwind mystery that will keep you hooked—and guessing—until the very end.”
—Sara Shepard, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was compared to the likes of Gilliam Flynn, which couldnt be farther from the truth. She did try to put a plot twist in at the very end which failed miserably. The whole book moved incredibly slow until the last twenty pages or so... Save your time and money with this one folks, it is not worth it!!
I did not like this book. It didn't hold my interest and it wondered around too much without significance. However, I did not care for Gone Girl either but would have rated it little higher than Dear aughter
When you slack off for a few days and seek praise in your own writing, bad things tend to happen. With me, my memory went to crap on a cracker. So (like Will Ferrell in Old School during the great debate) let me regurgitate DEAR DAUGHTER in a stream of consciousness before I’m even more screwed than I already am. Janie Jenkins decided to take everything she had discovered over the course of her life—before she ended up in the pokey—and leave it on the side of the road. Her clothes, hair, name, and confidence…broken like a baseball bat. Her ability to mess around until the sun goes down with a semi-famous rock star. Gone. She may have been tabloid fodder with her feet firmly planted in an alternate reality, even as her mom tried to pull the minivan out of the driveway. But she had more than enough intelligence to jam a crucifix in that plan, and stay in the course in that multi-horse town. With her eyes downcast, and nothing to go on but a place and a date, she seeks justice for a crime she didn’t commit, even if she can’t get those ten years of her life back. But she’s bound and determined to even the score. Her character reminded me of a stray cat that had been kicked a little too much, and missed more meals than she received. Her mom couldn’t have offered a better plug for contraceptives, although she didn’t end up being a total loss. All the small town and South Dakota atmosphere needed was a six shooter, black hat, cloud of dust, and some western theme music. Yeah, the town nearly became a character in the story, and I reminisced about my brief stint in Rapid City, where the land was flat and the trees were sparse. The plot nudged along, until Elizabeth Little revved the engine and it took off near the end like a turbocharged Harley, and I nearly fell off and struck the pavement. Other than whiplash and a near brush with asphalt, I managed to keep my butt in my seat. I didn’t even need to dust myself off. With that being said, I didn’t like the end. It felt like I put my head through a glass door. Otherwise, though, I was good to go. If I pick up another Elizabeth Little novel, I’ll just make sure I walk with my hand in front of my face. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. DEAR DAUGHTER, by Elizabeth Little, is a razor sharp debut thriller which will keep you on edge until the surprise ending! Janie (a Paris Hilton / Kim Kardashian type celebrity) is out of prison after serving ten years, for the murder of her mother, a philanthropist. With circumstantial evidence, it appears she did it, or was framed. Her memories of the said evening which changed her life and fueled her for revenge, are not very clear; however, she cannot rest until she finds the real killer. There is much publicity surrounding the case, and of course crazy stalker bloggers, and celebrity journalists, so Janie has to go undercover to find answers. Her leads take her to a mining town in South Dakota, where Janie tries to find out more about her mother’s past, her father, herself, and then there is the lawyer, Noah. Someone holds the key to all the secrets and she is determined to find answers about the night her mother was killed. Jane knows she and her mother have never been close; however she cannot help but recall the quarrel prior to her death between her mother and someone. A complex and gripping story with tight and precise writing, and a not so likable smart mouth sarcastic main character Jane, which has traveled everywhere and gained notoriety through her family connections. It was fun seeing the transition of personalities from the real Jane to the one which is undercover, obsessed with finding clues leading to that night. Where nothing is as it seems, Little takes you on twists, turns, filled with humor for a clever and dramatic faced-paced mystery with family dynamics of mother-daughter plus more—alternating between the current present quest, and memories and events leading to the night her mother was murdered and of course, all the media surrounding the case. I am not a huge fan of celebrities, reality TV, and the gossip and glam which go along with the role; however, hoping for a sequel, as feel the ending lends itself for another interesting saga!
A gripping plot with some surprises especially the last page. The main character is a wise cracking , potty mouthed narcissist who is difficult to relate to or to like . The author didn't need to make her so immature and nasty for the novel to have been successful .
Did not like this book at all. I should not have purchased it after seeing it compared to "Gone Girl", which I thought was highly over rated! Don't waste your time or $$$. Sorry!!!
Such poor writing. And the plot is so paper thin and juvenile. Disappointment City - save your money.
I know the reviews are good and I would agree on some points, but I wish I wouldn't have bothered with this book. Very disjointed aand odd, especiallly the last few chapters.
Very mysterious and campy!
Slow, boring at times, could have been decent short story
A memorable storyline with the right mix of suspense and thrills. ~*~LEB~*~
I don't quite know how it's all possible in one novel but it's accomplished here . If you love complicated heroines like Catniss Everdean, you'll love Janie. Great character development told from the mind of a classic narcissist manipulator. The ending will be ringing in your ears for days after.
Being compared to Gillian Flynn and having an interesting synopsis I thought I would love this book. While it did hold my attention, I do have to say that I was sitting on a beach in Hawaii with completely undivided attention to focus on it. Otherwise I don't think I would have finished it. It was a good story, however about half way through became so incredibly far fetched I was just glad to see it end.
This is a love it or hate novel, and I LOVED it! Psychological Thrillers with unreliable narrators is a favorite of mine and this one did not disappoint. Witty description was like no other I've ever read. The author had me guessing to the very end. Other reviews have compared this story to Gone Girl, but I think you must go into this book without such expectations then prepare yourself for a great read!
Finally finished it, after...how many months...six? Yes, that's right, six long months. Normally I can finish an engaging read within a couple of days, staying up until the wee hours, feeling an overwhelming sense of melencholy at the loss of the characters that I am going to deeply miss. If one is looking for an experience that is going to engage until the wee hours turning page after page in a fury of anticipation and left with sadness that the journey is over, then keep searching, because this book isn't for them. It's shallow in every way that a book can be. The protagonist is a horrible, dry, boring character who thinks she's so cool and interesting because she's unconventional and uses big words and was an 'it' girl. I found it droll and pretentious. This is just my opinion and others may completely disagree with me. I do give the author a high five for accomplishing the grueling hard work of creating the story and actually getting her book published, kudos to her. I have high respect for all writers. However, for me, this book isn't one that I will remember and talk about in years to come. In other words, it's forgettable.
I picked up this book because a few reviews compared it to the likes of Gillian Flynn's material, and as I loved "Gone Girl," I decided to give it a shot. After reading the book, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the author is similar to Gillian Flynn. The writing in "Gone Girl," for example, seemed a lot more streamlined and made a little bit more sense. With "Dear Daughter," the story went all over the place with flashbacks and things at the beginning of each chapter that I often had difficulty keeping up not only with the plot, but the assorted array of characters that were introduced, all of whom seemed very one dimensional. I guess the only comparison I can make between it and "Gone Girl," is that I also didn't much like the ending. The "Dear Daughter" ending seemed very rushed and the revelation of the killer seemed to come out of nowhere due to last minute plot twists. Furthermore, the ending just came to a sudden halt after the action was over. I invested so much time into these characters (however one-dimensional they may have been), and I would like to have received a little bit of follow-up toward the end about what happened to all of them and their relationship to the main character after the truth is discovered. However, the author just allows for the big reveal at the end and just leaves it at that with no follow through afterwards. I think that's what I disliked the most about the book. Overall, I think the book might be nice as a quick summer read. It's only 300 some odd pages, so it wouldn't take a person long to finish. And the chapters are pretty concise and get to the point without slogging on for pages and pages, which I always like. It's a decent read, but not the best, in my opinion.
What started off as an interesting idea for a mystery, got lost along the way. The main character's frequent references to luxury items comes off as very researched and forced. The male characters were so thinly developed that I had trouble keeping the names straight. The ending of the novel felt rushed and unfinished.
Janie Jenkins was the latest LA It Girl to fall from the glittering heights when she was convicted of murdering her mother. Ten years later, she’s released on a technicality from when her trial was held. Now she’s on the trail which was started from her mother’s last words and which Janie hopes will lead her to the truth. Because she didn’t kill her mother, did she? DEAR DAUGHTER is written through prose, articles, and blog posts. Janie’s voice is spot-on and it was interesting to see her character grow while uncovering her mother’s past, yet maintaining her snarkiness and own brand of self. Especially with as hungry as the populace seems to be for hints of fame and the rollercoaster ride lives of celebrities and so-called celebrities, DEAR DAUGHTER fits right into this culture. There is a secondary world Jane enters – Ardelle and Adeline, South Dakota. These small-towns and the seemingly small-minded people who populate them just may hold the secrets Janie needs to discover who her mother truly was before and how she became the woman Janie knew. DEAR DAUGHTER will definitely appeal to readers who like Gillian Flynn or Marisha Pessl.