Dear Daughter: A Novel

Dear Daughter: A Novel

2.9 32
by Elizabeth Little
     
 

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•  Winner of the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel  •  Nominated for the Barry and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel   •  Longlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award

“Quick-witted and fast-paced, this debut mystery should be a hit with Gone Girl

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Overview

•  Winner of the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel  •  Nominated for the Barry and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel   •  Longlisted for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award

“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 AtkinsonNew 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
06/02/2014
Jane Jenkins, the heroine of Little’s assured fiction debut, single-mindedly pursues one goal when she’s released from a California women’s prison. After serving 10 years of her sentence for the 2003 murder of her mother, socialite and philanthropist Marion Elsinger, she wants desperately to find out if she was indeed the culprit. Public opinion, led by the media and including crime blogger Trace Kessler, strongly leans toward belief in her guilt. Armed with a false persona, Jane disappears from the public eye and even her lawyer’s protection to follow the slimmest of leads into her secretive, tempestuous mother’s mysterious past in tiny, decaying Adeline, S.Dak., and its mirror community of Ardelle. Little (Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages) effectively intersperses outside perspective in the form of emails, text messages, and other communications in Jane’s entertainingly caustic first-person narrative (e.g., “Multi-tools are like insults, girls—you should always have one on hand”). Agent: Kate Garrick, DeFiore and Company. (Aug.)
all
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
From the Publisher
“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.” 
Entertainment Weekly 
 
“Little keeps you guessing until the end — and then closes her book with a final, twisted flourish.”
—Daneet SteffensThe 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.”
Associated Press 
 
“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 KellyThe 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.”
Cosmopolitan 
 
“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.”
Good Housekeeping 
 
“[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 Girl—except 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.’” 
Shelf Awareness 
 
“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.”
Kirkus Reviews 
 
“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.”
—Bookreporter.com 

“Clever. . . . This is a killer debut, in every sense of the word!” 
—BookPage

“[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.”
Publishers Weekly

“Janie keeps them all guessing . . .  An unusual protagonist who will intrigue readers who favor strong, smart women.”
Booklist

“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 AtkinsonNew 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 FrenchNew 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 McCreightNew 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 ShepardNew York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

Kirkus Reviews
2014-06-19
Agatha Christie meets Kim Kardashian in this sharp-edged, tart-tongued, escapist thriller.Author of two nonfiction books (Trip of the Tongue, 2012, etc.), Little makes her fiction debut with a stylishly written tale that plays off our culture's obsession with celebrity scandal. “Janie Jenkins, the infamous Hollywood celebutante,” was known for her notoriety rather than for anything she ever did, until she was convicted of murdering her mother. From the preponderance of circumstantial evidence, it seems plain that she did it—or that she was framed. And though she had motive enough—there was little love lost between the two—her memories of that evening (like many evenings) are so hazy that she really isn’t sure whether she did it or not. Now, after 10 years in jail, Janie is freed on a convenient technicality, and she embarks on a secret mission to discover the truth—about her mother, about herself—while celebrity journalists and a particularly zealous blogger try to figure out where she's gone. Says Janie: “It's hard 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 particularly liked your own mother.” Her quest leads her (somewhat implausibly) to a town in South Dakota where five families have a long lineage from the days of gold fever. Amid this close-knit community, which is “like a Thanksgiving dinner that never ends,” Janie tries to discover who her mother really was, who her father really was, who she really is, and what her lawyer knows that she doesn’t. The town is like one of Christie’s closed rooms—someone who lives there holds the key to all the secrets, and that person may well be her mother’s murderer. Unless Janie is.This is breezy reading: nothing too deep or disturbing, and stronger on style than plot.
Library Journal
★ 06/15/2014
Janie Jenkins was a rich pain in the neck who lived in L.A. and had it all—until the night when she was arrested and then sentenced to prison for ten years for killing her mother. Now she is out on a technicality with people still calling for her blood. Especially a blogger known as Trace, who writes passionate screeds about why Janie should be put back in prison. Once out, Janie is determined to track down who really killed her mother as she is convinced she is innocent. Her journey takes her to a small South Dakota town where she meets quite the cast of characters in the local residents. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 2/10/14.]—Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670016389
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/31/2014
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
350,217
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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.

:)

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A former It Girl hunts down her mom’s murderer in this can’t-put-down thriller.”
Cosmopolitan
 
“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.”
Good Housekeeping
 
“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.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“[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.”
Publishers Weekly
 

“Janie keeps them all guessing . . .  An unusual protagonist who will intrigue readers who favor strong, smart women.”
Booklist  
“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

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