Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson is an impressively original, clever and entertaining meta crime mystery. My audiobook review.
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Synopsis
Ernest Cunningham, Book 1
Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle meet Knives Out and The Thursday Murder Club in this fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.
I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder.
Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up.
The thing is, us Cunninghams don’t really get along. We’ve only got one thing in common: we’ve all killed someone.
The Australian novel that has taken the world by (snow)storm. Following a heated auction in Hollywood, film/TV rights were sold to HBO, and publishing rights to 26 countries so far!
(Penguin Australia, March 2022)
Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Drama, Humour
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
We have all seen plenty of publisher blurbs telling us the latest crime fiction they are spruiking is ‘fiendishly clever’… But, Benjamin Stevenson’s Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is the first title I have read in a long time that is genuinely deserving of that descriptor.
And fortunately, in Ernie Cunningham he has crafted a lead character and narrator who’s persona and storytelling technique are just so endearing, that the audience is willing to embrace all that cleverness rather than be put offside by it.
Who wouldn’t have a soft spot for an earnest underdog, the black sheep of the family, who at all times has just been trying to do the right thing? And then been ostracised because of it? Ernest is like one of those punch dummies that just keep bouncing back up again, wanting to be understood and included.
“Family is not whose blood runs in your veins, it’s who you’d spill it for.”
But he’s only human, and so allowed to salve his wounds (and entertain us) with some observational dry humour too, right?
He writes books about crime mystery fiction, with his speciality the authors of the golden-age such as locked-room mystery queen Agatha Christie…. and good-naturedly takes some ribbing about it:
“You write books about how to write books that you’ve never written, bought by people who will never write one.”
His response, “Hey, it pays the bills.” But, when his much dreaded family reunion turns into even more of a nightmare than he’d expected (people start dying at their a ski-lodge during a snow storm), he finds this could in fact be his time to shine. And, this modern-day Poirot does more than deduction, he leaves skin in the game.
You got it…. Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is a metafiction lover’s dream. We learn of the events at the ski-lodge along with each family member’s colourful backstory by way of Ernie directly addressing the audience, discussing how he came to write his first crime novel. And, while doing so, he frequently cites his efforts to adhere to Ronald Knox’s 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction. It’s actually even more complex than that, but so much of the fun in this book are the surprises… I’m not going to spoil the rest of them.
Metafiction may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I get a real kick out of it. I find all the layers fascinating and my mind never gets bored. And, I have found the audiobook format particularly suited to the genre. When a novel’s narrator directly engages with the audience, listening to that can feel so much more impactful and engaging.
In the case of Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, audiobook narrator Barton Welch does well to subtly camouflage the delivery of some real zingers (clues and dark humour) in his understated and engaging performance of Ernie’s earnest, conversational style. At 9 hours and 31 mins it is a very palatable length too. (Listen to audiobook sample)
You’ll recall upfront I wholeheartedly endorsed the ‘fiendishly clever’ descriptor’s application to this novel. But in closing, I just want to make clear that not only are the meta elements impressively complex, but the underlying criminal mystery plotting also. I challenge even the most seasoned crime fiction lovers to figure this one out prior to the denouement!
Benjamin Stevenson’s Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is such a fun and engaging read/listen. I was not by any means in a reading rut, but I’d highly recommend this original and creative take on crime fiction for those that might be. Sign me up now for whatever comes next from this author.
BOOK RATING: The Story 5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5 – Overall 4.75
Get your copy of Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone from:Amazon Bookshop US Booktopia AU
Benjamin Stevenson’s highly anticipated sequel to this novel, Everyone On This Train Is A Suspect, is slated for publication in Australia in October 2023.
More fascinating crime mysteries:
More Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone reviews
“The best thing I’ve read in ages. I absolutely loved it. Whip-smart, twisted, funny, and constructed with the pinpoint precision of a bloodthirsty watchmaker.” – Stuart MacBride, The Dead of Winter
“Exceptionally clever and amusing. … Stevenson carries off this tour de force with all the aplomb of a master magician who conducts his tricks in plain view.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Utterly original, hugely entertaining, and a must-read for every fan of the mystery genre. What an exceptionally fresh, smart, funny book – I’ve never read anything like this before.”- Jane Harper, Exiles
“Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is a brave, original and mostly successful attempt at throwing the rulebook of a crime mystery out the window. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a cheeky, clever crime story.” – Crime Fiction Lover
“The most luxuriantly enjoyable novel I’ve read in years. And years . . . I only wish there were more members of the Cunningham clan, so that this raucous, matchlessly entertaining mystery could go on longer.” – AJ Finn, The Woman in the Window
About the Author, Benjamin Stevenson
Benjamin Stevenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. His first novel, Greenlight, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction, and his second novel, Either Side of Midnight, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Original Paperback.
Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, his third novel, was a huge bestseller and has so far been sold in twenty-six territories around the world. It will soon be adapted into a major HBO TV series. It was shortlisted for the Dymocks Book of the Year 2022 and named as one of The Sunday Times’s best crime novels 2022.
Benjamin has sold out live shows from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival all the way to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has appeared on ABC TV, Channel 10 and The Comedy Channel. Check out his website.