5 Star Reads, Book Reviews

Review: Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain

Image: Julia Dath

Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Buy the book here
  • Page Count: 432
  • Genre: Crime, thriller, fiction
  • Content warnings: Discussions of murder, suicide, and assault

I recently reviewed a Nora Roberts novel set in Ireland, but this Ireland-set story was entirely different. Missing sons, town gossip, and patricide all commune in this crime thriller by Jo Spain.

Ten years ago, Adam Lattimer went missing and was presumed dead. A year later, his mother, Kathleen, died of a heart attack. The Lattimer family has always been fodder for gossip in the Irish town of Spanish Cove. No doubt the wealthiest family in town, all eyes have always been on the six Lattimer siblings as they grew up under the watch of their sweet mother Kathleen and cruel father Frazier. One missing, one an entertainment big-shot, one a Dublin hotel owner, one off to New York, one off to Europe, and one staying at home.

But ten years later, Adam returns. And so the Lattimer siblings father, despite their old resentments and grief.

After a tense weekend reconnecting, Frazier sets the family off on a yacht celebration for his big announcement. Nine people set out. Only eight return alive.

Six Wicked Reasons takes us on a twisting tale of dysfunctional family and financial manipulations. Where was Adam all those years? Why did he return now? And who killed Frazier?

Jo Spain unravels this story with care. Movement through time and narrative voices is frequent. We’re given scenes of the children’s interviews with the police post-death, as well as the simultaneous story of the days leading up to the death.

The unique use of time and perspective is a shining highlight of this story. Jo Spain moves through time from both ends of the unducent, converging on the final reveal of what happened to Frazier. Think Knives Out if you’ve seen it.

Of course, there’s no justification to murder, but oh, does Spain make you hate Frazier. He’s manipulative, cruel, and entirely selfish. While the Lattimer siblings try to convince us that nobody intentionally killed their father, let’s just say that the motives for any one of them are crystal clear.

This book will keep you guessing until the very end. And there’s not just one secret, either. As the title implies, every child has some difficult past tied to their father. There is much more than meets the eye to this family and it becomes apparent very quickly. Each child has their own skeletons in the closet, and not all of them are total stories of victimhood.

Is it important that we like our narrators? I think, to an extent, we all want to like the character chosen to lead us through the story. I couldn’t easily get through Cather in the Rye in high school because I hated being in the head of Holden Cauldield so much.

I see a lot of critiques online of people criticizing characters being problematic for the choices they make (the writing and story being problematic is an entirely different point). And I have to think, what are stories if characters don’t do bad things? Wrongdoing often generates plot. Sometimes in literature it is more entertaining to live in the head of the villain than the head of the hero.Especially in the crime genre, there’s many books where we don’t know if the protagonist is a good person or not.

So be prepared to not trust anyone in Six Wicked Reasons, even when you’re in their head. The rotating sibling perspectives means that we, the readers, need to decide who to trust about the different recounting of events that came to pass in Spanish Cove.

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