In theory, The Lucky One should have been an easy 4-star review from me. The parallels between this book and my life are numerous.
- Australian author (I’m an Aussie! Tick)
- Story that takes place in Southern California (most of my family lives there! Tick)
- Complex female characters (Love them! Tick)
- Inheritance strife, mystery, and possible foul-play (Topical! Tick)
- Sympathetic female protagonist (That’s my jam! Tick)
Despite all those ticks…. OHDEARGOD this novel was boring trash.
The main storyline is this: a family trust is set to inherit a sprawling estate in El Paso. The trust beneficiaries, a complex family full of faults and foibles, have finally agreed to sell the land to a developer as soon as the elder patriarch shuffles off this mortal coil. If Overington had been restrained enough to stay close to this central plot and do a smidge of research on estate law, criminal investigation standards, and criminal law, this might have been a basic but serviceable novel. However, she can’t help but throw in a million and one subplots including (but not limited to) a young budding romance that goes awry, angry village people, a comically toxic mother, a literal skeleton in the closet (sorry, chimney), a highly unorthodox father/daughter detective team, an evil and greedy corporation set on destroying the land etc etc. It’s just a mess, really.
There are few things more irritating than an author who just doesn’t know when enough is enough. By taking a scatter-gun approach to this tale, the story goes from intriguing to melodramatic very quickly. The point of view shifts throughout from the aforementioned father/daughter detective team to the sympathetic female protagonist Eden. Eden, who is pulled out of her posh alternative boarding school one day by her mother and dragged back to the castle on the large family estate, is the only redeemable character in The Lucky One. Her mother is so laughably overblown that ‘toxic’ barely covers it. Overington relishes in describing the mother’s tiny frame, flamboyant sequined clothing, designer handbags, manicured nails, and general despicable nature. We spend a lot of time learning how completely awful this woman is, and spoiler alert, I think we are supposed to be surprised when it is later revealed that she may have had a hand in the untimely demise of her father-in-law.
What I found far more surprising than this reveal was the laughably inaccurate representation of the criminal investigation and trial described in the book. I’m happy to suspend my disbelief when reading fiction, but the ‘criminal investigation’ aspect of the novel (a term which I use very very loosely) was a bridge too far for me. You don’t have to be a lawyer to find the closing chapters of the book utterly ridiculous. The ‘trial’ that follows this ‘investigation’ uses the flimsiest evidence you can imagine and leaves many many loose ends trailing behind (including even more twists revealed in the last chapter).
I suppose the genre of the novel would be a suspense/mystery, but it lacks any real tension or resolution. There is no emotional payoff at the end. Frankly, I was relieved to finish this book and get on with my life.
Needless to say, this is my first, and last, foray into Overington’s published fiction. 2 collectable bird nests out of 5.