The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell



Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.


The Family Remains is a sequel to The Family Upstairs which continues to follow the stories of the children who were trapped in the nightmare at 16 Cheyne Walk. I have to say I was surprised when this book was released as I didn’t feel a sequel was necessary, however it seems Jewell was begged to write one by fans of the first book.

When a dead body is discovered on the roof of the house at Cheyne Walk, the police believe it may be linked to the murder/suicide that took place there twenty years before and they are desperate to trace the whereabouts of the previous occupants. Libby, who recently sold the house, is determined to keep the identity of her mother, Lucy, and her uncle, Henry, a secret but she is a poor liar and only makes things worse. Lucy and her children have been living with Henry for over two years and she is keen to buy her own house but the police investigation raises fears her darkest secrets will be discovered,

Meanwhile, Henry, obsessed with finding Phin, makes an impromptu trip to Botswana where the man has been working as a guide. However, Phin, tipped off about the visit, has already fled to Chicago where Henry goes next. Henry has already altered his appearance to look like Phin and his behaviour becomes increasingly disturbed as he follows Phin’s trail and severs all contact with Lucy. Worried about his intentions. Lucy travels to Chicago with her children under false names but the police are not far behind her.

A new character, Rachel, is introduced but her story begins a couple of years before the current events of the book but it eventually catches up. Rachel meets Michael, Lucy’s abusive ex-husband, and eventually marries him but his behaviour changes alarmingly after the wedding and she learns about his shady business dealings. A horrified Rachel soon discovers Michael is blackmailing her own father and decides to track down Lucy but gets more than she bargained for when Michael ends up dead.

Although the plot is quite twisty, it adds nothing new to the original story which felt finished to me. All of the characters do questionable things in an attempt to protect each other but they only end up making things worse to the point of ridiculousness. The police are also useless and could learn a few things from Lucy’s young son, Marco, who seems to have a no trouble tracking people.