“The Twin’s Daughter” by Lauren Baratz-Logsted is an historical fiction mystery for young adult readers. It really has all the necessary ingredients for an enjoyable read — especially the finely spun web of mystery.
The story is told in first person narrative from the viewpoint of Lucy. She is born into a wealthy family. Her father is a writer who has no need to work — his family has more money than they will ever be able to spend — so he spends his days in his study writing books that may never be published. Her mother dotes on Lucy, who is her only child, having suffered through two miscarriages.
One afternoon, Lucy answers the door, and the woman on the steps is an exact replica of her mother. It turns out that her mother was adopted (a surprise) when a maid became pregnant, but when twins were born, the wealthy couple only wanted one child so the other went to an orphanage.
Helen, the sister, is taken into the household, educated and dressed. She and Lucy become close. However, mysterious happenings are taking place. Lucy sees someone — either her mother or Helen — sitting on a park bench with an obviously lower-class man talking heatedly. On her return, Helen denies having seen anyone.
When Lucy arrives home one day to an apparently empty house, she comes across a hideous scene. Two women are tied in chairs, one dead and one covered in blood. Lucy does not know which one is her mother and which one is her aunt.
The reader is told that it is Helen who has died, but there is much to cast doubt about which sister is really the survivor. There is also the fact that the reader knows Helen was involved in an affair with Lucy’s father before her (maybe) death. The woman who was killed, it is discovered during the autopsy, was pregnant.
Lucy is puzzled by the change in her mother after Helen’s death. Her mother encourages Lucy’s father to eat and drink to excess and to begin smoking. Her father gains weight, is drunk much of the time, and finally dies in his forties.
Soon after his death, Lucy’s mother (or is she?) marries again, to the same man whom Lucy had seen with her aunt in the park. It is all very mysterious, and the reader comes to believe that is was actually Helen who survived the killing and Lucy’s mother who was killed.
It’s on Lucy’s wedding day that the truth becomes clear. And even then, there is a twist. This is an engrossing novel with a strong protagonist who wends her way through the plot’s many twists and turns.
Visit the author’s website for information about her many other novels.
This book was reviewed from the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Bloomsbury, for review purposes.