Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1)” as Want to Read:
Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Death in the Family

(Shana Merchant #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,002 ratings  ·  247 reviews
A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. Senior Investigator Shana Merchant believes it all adds up to a killer in their midst—and that murder is a family affair.

Thirteen months ago, former NYPD detective Shana Merchant barely survived being abducted by a serial killer. Now hoping to leave grisly murder cases behind, she's taken a job in her fiancé's sleep
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by Berkley
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Death in the Family, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Tessa Hi Eydie! You'll learn more about Shana's escape as you get deeper into the book...and more about her connection to Bram in the next one, which will b…moreHi Eydie! You'll learn more about Shana's escape as you get deeper into the book...and more about her connection to Bram in the next one, which will be released this December. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,002 ratings  ·  247 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1)
Miranda Reads
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Miranda by: Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
Another Booktube video - this time all about the Top 10 Books of 2020 (so far) .

Now that you know this fabulous book made the list, check out the video to see the rest!

Shout out to Tucker - who suggested we buddy-read this one!

That muscle again. It slid beneath the surface of his skin like an eel in shallow water.
Former NYPD detective Shana Merchant took her position at Thousand Islands to escape the haunting events from thirteen months ago - where she was knocked down to a
Nilufer Ozmekik
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is another early, surprising, twisty, riveting, dark, mind-bending, whodunit gift for me makes me sing Christmas Carol songs louder lalalalala!

In the beginning I was expecting I had a three stars, mostly four stars ordinary reading. A small town murder mystery with too much Christie vibes, dark and rainy atmosphere you may see at Norwegian dramas or Fincher movies(just remember bloody “Seven”, rain never stopped till the last scene.), investigators have different methods, coming from d
Chelsea Humphrey
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chelsea by: Berkley Publishing Group
"The beginning. Where was that exactly? Nowhere I wanted to take a stranger, even if he did smell nice. But maybe I could go back partway, just far enough to make him happy. Back to a limestone building on East Fifth Street, and a day that grabbed me by the throat and still hasn't let go."

Hear ye, hear ye, all my mystery loving friends of the Agatha Christie variety: this one's for you. I know that the subtle, slow paced mystery has taken a backseat to the flashy psychological thriller over the
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
A Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert is a 2020 Berkley publication.

Fantastic locked room mystery with a dark edge!

The premise for this novel sounded good- just the kind of mystery I like. But I was in for a huge surprise when this book turned out to be one of my favorite mysteries of the year so far!

Shana Merchant has moved to upstate New York, to her fiance’s hometown, after a traumatic close call with a serial killer, while working as a detective with the NYPD.

Now working in a smaller te
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Here we go…A good ole’ fashioned who done it!

The Sinclair family have gathered together on Fern Island one last time. They’ve come to pay respects to the matriarch of the family, Camilla. Her health is failing quickly and this may be the last time the family will all be together. But now, as if that weren’t enough, one family member goes missing, leaving nothing behind but a pool of blood. Naturally, the police are called to assist.

A family drama that will make you appreciate your own family.

Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Hot Golden Diggity Dang! This is one well written, exciting modern-day take to the locked room /impossible crime mystery. If you are looking for something a little different from those dark and twisted thrillers that is well-plotted and draws you into an interesting puzzle to solve, this is one not to be missed.

This was another pleasant surprise for me from the stack of not our normal books Elisha from Berkley sends our way. When that happens, I am like this excited kid running around with a bi
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tents, atmospheric, claustrophobic. This was a cleverly crafted locked room who done it. This is the first book in Tessa Wegert’s new crime thriller series and I have to say the series is off to a great start! Detective Shana Merchant has relocated to upstate New York after being kidnapped by a serial killer. She is still dealing with her demons and is grateful for her sleepy small-town surroundings. Then one stormy day she and her partner Tim receive a call out to a private island, someone has ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Atmospheric, compelling, & characteristic!

DEATH IN THE FAMILY (Shana Merchant #1) by TESSA WEGERT is a gripping, thrilling, dark, twisty, and entertaining whodunit locked-room mystery that was an absolute pleasure to read. Right from the get go I knew that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this one. It has this classic whodunit vibe going on here that I find so appealing and absolutely love.

The mystery takes us to a remote private island and has this absolutely perfect story setting. I loved the
Susanne  Strong
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 Stars

An Island off of the Coast of New York. A Missing Man. A Blood Soaked Bed. A House full of wholly unlikeable suspects.

Investigators Shana Merchant and Tim Wellington are tasked with finding out what happened to Jasper Sinclair. Was he murdered or did he leave the Island of his own accord?

Shana Merchant is highly suspicious - but then she has her reasons. Having suffered from an extremely traumatic past, her only solace is her ability to throw herself into her work. This case is a doozy
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tucker by: Miranda Reads

Many thanks to Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
People with that kind of wealth often feel untouchable, and it’s a shock when they discover they’re not.

My original rating was four stars but I am dropping it to three stars because, even though the end was great, it simply wasn’t enough to make up for how numbingly dull it was in the first half.

So, what’s this book about?

On an island, a butler calls in a murder. Shana Merchan
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 stars!! A perfect beginning to what I hope is a very long series!! If you liked Lucy Foley's, The Guest List, you will love this one.

I absolutely ADORE mystery books. Have loved them since I can remember. What's even better than a mystery book? A mystery SERIES. And boy is this the one you should drop everything for and start. Ever since I received an email from Netgalley on 10/31/19 to request this book, I knew I had to read it. It gave off the Christie vibes, had a multi-dimensional female l
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Death in the Family is the start of an exciting, atmospheric, and entertaining new series. I was gripped from the opening paragraphs, and I could not put this book down. I needed something that would distract me completely, and this was it. More thoughts to come, but crime thriller fans- definitely check this one out.

I received a gifted copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can be found on my blog: and instagram:
Katie B
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I loved how this mystery took place in the Thousand Islands region as I lived there for a few years. It's always fun to read a book in which you are familiar with the setting. This one turned out to be a solid whodunit mystery and given it is the first book in the series I am curious to see where it goes from here.

Former NYPD detective Shana Merchant is hoping for a fresh start and moves to upstate New York with her fiance. Many wealthy families flock to their vacation homes in the Thou
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Shana Merchant was abducted by a serial killer while working on a murder case in New York City. After her escape, she decides to continue her work as a detective but relocates with her fiance to upstate New York. She is hoping the crime work there proves to be less stressful and further her recovery from the trauma.

Shana and her partner, Tim, receive a call from the wealthy Sinclair family about the disappearance of Jasper Sinclair. Because of an impending storm, they rush to the family estate
Diana • Book of Secrets
DEATH IN THE FAMILY is a Christie-inspired mystery set on a remote private island in Upstate New York. Two local detectives are called to investigate a missing persons case at the home of a wealthy family. They arrive to find a bed covered in bloody sheets and eight potential suspects — some more cooperative than others. As a terrible storm begins to rage, the detectives find themselves trapped on this small island, possibly with a killer on the loose.

The mystery was intriguing and solid, and I
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently received an ARC of the second book in the Shana Merchant series, The Dead Season, from Berkley Books; currently set to release on December 8, 2020.

Thank you so much for providing me with a copy, Berkley. I am really looking forward to getting to that one.

With that in mind, although, I believe, like many Adult Mystery series, the books do not necessarily need to be read in order, or can be read as standalones, I still wanted to give this one a shot.

Upon completion, I am so happy that I
Cindy Burnett
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tessa Wegert’s brilliant debut opens with an Agatha Christie-style premise - an isolated property, a missing man, a blood soaked bed and room, and a defined group of people on the private island. The police are called out to the island just as a terrible storm is brewing trapping the investigators in the house with a cast of unlikeable characters. As they attempt to determine what happened to the missing individual, people start dying. Terrifically atmospheric, Death in the Family contains the p ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love, Love, LOVED. Review to Come.
Many thanks to Netgalley for letting me take a gander at this...

Third times the charm!

First I wrote this insanely long rant about this book initially, posted it for all of five minutes, took it down. Then I wrote a new, shorter "sorry I'm being mean" version. Today I'm back AGAIN to try to succinctly (ha ha ha ha ha) get down my issues.

I realized that it can all more or less be summed up in the first sentence of the prologue. Just to give you a touch of context this is an Agathe Christieesque mu
The Nerd Daily
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Marla Warren

The first description I read for Death in the Family included the concept that it would read like Olivia Benson (from Law and Order SVU) in an Agatha Christie novel. It sounded too good to be true, but it turned out to be a spot-on perfect description for this fun, exciting, twisty thriller!

We are introduced to Investigator Shana Merchant, who is suffering from PTSD after her interactions with a serial killer when she was a detective
Laura • lauralovestoread
I wavered back and forth with a 3 and 4 on this one, and realized that maybe police procedurals just aren’t my thing. I ended with 4 stars though because I did enjoy trying to figure out what was going on. Just know going in that it’s pretty slow burn.

*thank you Berkley pub for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
Farshana ❤️rainnbooks❤️
A book that left me feeling the chills of the storm…

First off, that brilliant cover image!!

And then of course the plot of the book, a raging storm, an island, the bed soaked in blood, wealthy Sinclair family all with heaps of motives and transgressions, distrust and suspicions galore and to top it off, a heroine who is herself recovering form the trauma of serial killer abduction. What more a crime thriller aficionado want?

And reading the above, all thriller fans immediately think of Agatha Ch
Donna Hines
This is one of those slow burns with an old mystery feel and a storm off to the horizon that's slowly brewing.
Now before you go grabbing the Folgers let me just say don't get too comfy because it soon explodes.
Where is Jasper? The snowstorm is blinding ...What is up with all this blood?
No, seriously spine tingling and chilling are simultaneous with this heart pounding action.
There has to be somebody in this inner circle involved with this wealthy Sinclair estate & this missing case that kno
This book was so in my wheelhouse that my opinion here should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. There are some core problems here (pacing is a bit off, the writing tone can be uneven, and there is one plot point that just plain doesn't make any sense), but I basically don't care about any of them, because this is just what I want from a contemporary isolated closed circle mystery-- can't escape big creepy house because of the weather. Body count rises. Convoluted relationships that come mo ...more
I finally got the chance to finish listening to this while doing some stuff around the house. This was an okay read but when I finally find out who did it I found out I didn’t really care all that much anymore. I know that’s the point but I disliked the entire Sinclair family and after a few plot twists and their endless complaints I kind of would have been okay with a bomb dropping on the island, just to liven things up a bit.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: obs, thriller
What a fabulous first novel and start to a new series! Shana is my kind of investigator, one who has had some of the worst life could offer and is still willing to go forward. The mystery kept me guessing to the end, with plot twists and multiple possible suspects on an island in upstate New York. It is incredibly well written with just the right amount of details and background on the characters, including the senior investigator, revealed little by little.

Shana had been a homicide investigator
Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Book number one of the Shana Merchant series, This is Wegert's debut novel. Let's say this avid reader can't wait for book number two in this series.
This is more a mystery than a thriller. I loved the setting the characters. It was a fun whodunit read.
If you loved Agatha Christie you are going to have a new author to fill that void.
I gave this book 4 stars and can't wait for the next book. I recommend this new author.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable
Wendy Walker
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really intriguing and atmospheric mystery set in a place I actually visited when I was a young girl. The Thousand Islands are wild and I could picture every scene unfolding. Lots of twists and turns and a very captivating protagonist we will surely be seeing a lot of in future books within this series. A fantastic start!

I'm fairly new to the locked-room type of mystery...and it ultimately makes me think of the game Clue...this story really reminded me of playing that game as a kid. Except these people are family.

Shana Merchant is a former NYPD detective who barely
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thirteen months ago, Senior Investigator Shana Merchant was abducted by a serial killer. She’s hoping to find a way back to normality and has moved from New York City to a small community known as Thousand Islands in search of peace. This is an area where murder and violent crime is basically nonexistent. When Shana gets the call that a man is missing from an isolated island with the only clue being a blood-soaked bed, her first instinct tells her a killer is on the loose. On Tern Island, Shana ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • This Tender Land
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)
  • When I Was You
  • Leverage in Death (In Death, #47)
  • Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
  • The Lake House
  • The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
  • One by One
  • American Dirt
  • Eight Perfect Murders (Malcolm Kershaw, #1)
  • The Dilemma
  • People of the Sea (North America's Forgotten Past, #5)
  • The Wolf Wants In
  • The Return
  • The Penelopiad
  • Expecting to Die (To Die, #7)
  • A Brushstroke with Death (An Owl and Crescent Mystery #1)
  • The Highlander's Christmas Bride (Clan Kendrick, #2)
See similar books…
Tessa Wegert is the author of the Shana Merchant series of mysteries, beginning with DEATH IN THE FAMILY. She grew up in Quebec near the border of Vermont and now lives with her husband and children in Coastal Connecticut, where she writes while studying martial arts and dance.

You can find Tessa online at,, and

Other books in the series

Shana Merchant (2 books)
  • The Dead Season (Shana Merchant, #2)

Articles featuring this book

When it comes to mysteries and thrillers, we're all guilty of loving a good trope from time to time. From "The butler did it!" to "They all did...
238 likes · 58 comments