The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other…
If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?
This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.
The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?
The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.
One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.
Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.
Apples Never Fall is an absorbing, well-written novel which, although a mystery at its heart, is more about the complicated lives of the main characters: the Delaney family. They’re a big Tennis family, with both Joy and Stan Delaney having played at a high level and then ran a coaching business until their retirement, and their adult children – Amy, Troy, Logan and Brooke – also playing when they were younger. We learn at the beginning of the book that the mother, Joy, has gone missing. Is it connected to the strange house guest they had last year, Savannah, who turned up at their house one night at random following a fight with her boyfriend? Or has her husband Stan done something to her?
The book itself felt pretty long when I was reading it – and it is almost 500 pages, after all – but I found myself completely absorbed in the story. I think it could perhaps have done with some editing, but Apples Never Fall is tightly plotted and, as you get towards the end of the book, it feels like you get so many moments of realisation and seemingly unimportant things become tied up nicely.
If you’re looking for a book that will be fast-paced and all about mystery, this isn’t for you. Although we see some chapters from the perspective of Christina (the detective, who I really liked), who is investigating Joy’s disappearance, we don’t focus on that a huge amount. The story jumps backwards in time to the lead up to Joy’s disappearance, and back to the present day as the family tries to cope. We also see inside the characters’ thoughts and, through this, we see memories from when they were very young. We learn that Stan is certainly no perfect dad, which makes us start to wonder if he could be hiding something.
There’s some humour within its pages as well as well developed characters that feel convincing, although they sometimes seem a little naive. The way they interact together is really interesting and feels like a reflection of many true life families – everyone has their roles to play, whether intended or not and sometimes it’s hard to break free from that mould. The characters all have their own secrets which may or may not be relevant to Joy’s disappearance, and I really found myself wavering between what I thought had actually happened.
If you’re wanting something full of twists and turns (though this does have plenty too) and fast-paced, then this probably isn’t the novel for you. But if you’re after something beautifully written, reflective and with great character development, then give Apples Never Fall a go! Another great release from one of my favourite authors.
Many thanks to the publisher, Michael Joseph, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.