Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little – Review

Harvill Secker/Vintage


“‘As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.
Oh, I thought I was so clever.
But you probably already know that I’m not.’

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?”

3.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Net Galley and this is my honest review.

Jane Jenkins, Hollywood socialite, is released on a technicality after serving 10 years in prison for the murder of her mother. Immediately she goes into hiding. Running away from the world, and her lawyer, the only friend she has, she sets out to find out the truth about her mother’s murder, basing her search on a snatched conversation overheard the night her mother died. Even if it means finding out she did actually kill her mother, as everyone else believes…

Jane Jenkins, renamed by the media as Janie, had a spoiled and somewhat lavish upbringing, spending most of her youth in Switzerland before moving to the US. Her mother is a socialite and philanthropist also well known for her many marriages. One morning Janie wakes from a drug and drink fuelled binge to find her mother dead from gunshot wounds, with the name Jane written in blood at her side. Not knowing what really happened that night, and whether she did kill her mother, with whom she had a tumultuous relationship at best, Janie heads out to find out what happened.

I have mixed feelings about this book. There were times I couldn’t put it down, wanting to find out what happened next. Then there were times that I carried on reading just to get past a part I didn’t particularly like. Janie Jenkins is a particularly dislikeable character with few redeeming features. She is spoiled, vain, tempestuous and snide. Despite 10 years in prison, most spent in solitary, she still has a major chip on her shoulder. I understand that the author, Elizabeth Little, is keen to find out what people thought of Janie and she is certainly a character that will make an impression. Elizabeth Little is certainly talented at characterisation. A character that draws definite feelings is always better than one that draws indifference.

As the story develops some parts of Janie mature too but overall she still acts as the spoiled 17 year old who went to prison and not the 27 year old who has been released. She is however more aware of her short comings, she is well aware of her ‘rampant narcissism’. Through the story development and flashbacks it becomes apparent that perhaps a lot of Janie’s attitude is as result of her childhood but also some of it inherited from her mother, who is not all that she seems either.

The mystery itself was compelling enough; I had worked it out before the denoument but again this didn’t spoil the story for me. I don’t want to go into too much detail as it would spoil the story. After all the fun of reading a mystery novel is that it’s a mystery before you start 🙂  All in all, whilst I didn’t love this story I did like it and am glad I read it.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. This is on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I picked it up at Harrogate this year.


    1. janetemson says:

      I hope you like it, and I look forward to seeing what you make of Jane 🙂


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