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Dead End Drive

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In this transgressive, satire-laced debut, a fourteen-year-old boy inherits his family home and the hatred of all those around him as they seek to seize the inheritance from his cold, dead hands.

When Agatha Benedict plucked Kelly off the city streets to replace her dead cat Poopsie, she neglected to inform him of some very important house traditions. The history of the Benedict Estate prescribes that once the estate owner passes on, a will reading is to take place. However, the reading is more than passing on a loved one's final wishes; it's a figurative gunshot into the air, an alert to all in attendance that a playful game of anything goes murder has begun. The prize? The inheritance, of course. As if visiting, a storm comes in with the guests, trapping everyone on the property for the night. While Kelly plays catch-up on with house rules, once friendly family members have already sharpened their knives. Try as he might, there is no survival if he won't play by the same rules as everyone else.

A uniquely funny and dark murder party with big personalities. Inspired by the board game 13 Dead End Drive, and paying homage to it throughout, this novel is a coming-of-age story if growing up felt like being stabbed in the back by everyone you hold dear. As suspenseful as Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, as sardonic as American Psycho, and as slapstick as Clue, Dead End Drive is a black comedy and satirical look into the world of nihilism and the rat race of life we all see, but pretend we don't because... Let's be honest: is there anything more valuable than having every last need met for life?

280 pages, ebook

First published October 13, 2020

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About the author

Ian Kirkpatrick

8 books91 followers
Ian Kirkpatrick is an award-winning author of oddities: speculative fiction, satire, and magical realism.

Her credentials are these: an MFA in Creative Writing, a BA in Theater, and an intense interest in psychology and incongruity. She's particularly obsessed with human nature, rationale, morality, good and evil, absurdity, and the supernatural bend you can find between mythology and reality, so her fiction will often contain these elements. She particularly enjoys using exaggeration, contrast, and incongruity to paint the worlds she creates. While she writes across genres, these elements will often still be found in her works along with innocent characters, psychopathic characters, or a combination of the two.

She has written novels, short stories, stage plays, and screenplays.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 86 reviews
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,500 reviews178 followers
January 2, 2021
Dead End Drive is the first novel by American author, Ian Kirkpatrick. Agatha Jane Benedict, the heiress of the Benedict Estate, has died. Her adopted son, a fourteen-year-old illiterate brat called Kelly, expects to inherit her fortune.

The informal will reading, though, holds a surprise: “his inheritance to be left in the care of my personal medium and good friend, Madame Astra, until the boy is of legal age and able to claim it properly. If he and his guardian are unable to care for the property, the house rules will be applied and the individual who is able to care for it will receive it all.”

Apparently, Agatha has been one of the more benevolent heirs to the Estate, “she felt charitable and wanted to offer someone down on their luck an opportunity to prosper, such as the tennis pro she never used. She wanted to give them the basics to help them up, then send them back into the world, but by the time their confidence was restored, they didn’t want to leave the house.”

Thus, apart from the tennis pro forced into retirement, there is a collection of freeloaders: a doctor with many malpractice suits; an ambitious personal stylist; a former cab-driver with a tendency to assault rides; and a gold-digger granddaughter. As well as this Agatha was making her way through a succession of lovers, all of whom she calls Beauregard, the name of her only husband.

“House rules”? It seems that the will-reading green-lights a murderous free-for-all, so that the recipients of her generosity embark on a killing spree to eliminate each other. Within an hour of the reading, one is already dead, and two more follow soon after. All this during a wild storm that has the lights flashing off and on again unpredictably.

What follows definitely has elements of slapstick, and there’s quite a high body count. Meanwhile, loyal members of staff clean up the mess, dispose of the bodies, and try to protect Kelly.

This is a tale populated with violent characters; many are shallow, greedy and nasty; quite a few spout psychobabble, while some are given potted histories meant to legitimise their little philosophical discourses. Intended to entertain, but falls a little short.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy (that was liberally drenched in typographical and continuity errors) provided by NetGalley and Steak House Books.

Profile Image for Renae Reads.
440 reviews319 followers
October 11, 2020
*** I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

I admire that this book took an exciting concept: potential inheritors of a property, literally battling for its ownership in an engaging duel of will power and strategy. The concept was a fun and new take on how many relationships are based around money and how that affects relationships. This concept allowed for a satirical spin on how each character reacts to their predicaments and how determined they are to survive.

Although this was an exciting concept to read about I found the execution of its character motivations extremely lacking in overall development. I found it difficult to remain connected with all of the characters, regardless of the various life-threatening situations they found themselves in.

This debut novel is a tale that will keep you guessing to the end, but it was a struggle for me to remain engaged and connected to the various players in the game. I enjoyed the gory death scenes and humor spliced throughout the novel, it reminded me of a bloodier update to a classic Agatha Christie mystery.

If you enjoy fun and new concepts for your thriller novels then this one is for you, but if you enjoy more character-driven novels then you will be disappointed.

*** I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Profile Image for Amanda.
2,043 reviews61 followers
August 7, 2020
[I received a digital arc form Netgalley for an honest review]

Holy moly where to start with this book. It's filled with dark humor, gory murder, twisted and despicable characters. This book definitely isn't for every one but if that piques your interest it's worth checking out.

"There will be blood; monsters are not only things of fairy tales and bad dreams."

Dead End Drive
brings a group of people together during a storm to read the will of the Benedict estates deceased owner. It isn't long before bodies start dropping. It's every man/woman for themselves as they attempt to survive the night with their lives. Whoever is left standing at the end will be the heir to Benedict Estate. But the people roaming the halls aren't the only thing you have to look out for when the house itself seems to come alive around you.

This book is a touch of Clue, House on Haunted Hill, The Purge and a dash of Haunting of Hill House all smashed together. I thoroughly enjoyed the story itself even if I couldn't stand 90% of the characters within it. But you'e not suppose to really like them. Yes some were better than the others, but they all had some extreme flaw to them with some more horrible than others. They were selfish, conniving, violent, racist, vile personalities that all end up getting what they deserve.

"All people have urges and the urge to kill is no different than the urge to eat or sleep or relieve one's self."

The writing itself will reel you in and brings the feeling of old school mystery telling with its details and eeriness. If you are a fan of murder scenes and I mean like horror movie level at times (thinking of one death in particular that happens in the Doc's office that makes me cringe a little) then you might want to give this book a try.

All in all, Dead End Drive is a fantastic debut novel and I look forward to seeing whatever twisted stories Ian Kirkpatrick comes up with next.
Profile Image for Vidhi.
152 reviews21 followers
May 13, 2021
Dead End Drive by Ian Kirkpatrick is a thriller novel that shows the actions of multiple characters at a reading of one deceased woman's will. The characters must fight to the death in one night and the victor shall inherit this entire fortune.

Let me start by talking about the plot itself, which I think was honestly not too bad. The pacing had some big issues as we didn't find out that everyone had to kill each other until the first victim was murdered a significant way through the book. There was no real explanation as to why this had to happen or how all of these characters knew what to do. There was also the issue that every character was one dimensional, boring and forgettable. The gay character only talked about hair and 'gay stuff', the evil doctor insisted that everyone only called her Doctor. It was just a bit stereotypical and not that enjoyable. I think that there is solid potential in the plot itself but everything that supports the plot was not great.

I got an audiobook of this novel and oh my god was the narrator the most annoying person I have ever had the displeasure of listening to. His voice acting was questionable for the most part and outright offensive the rest of the time (of course the gay character is the only one who spoke like an idiot with a gratingly high voice and a weird accent) and the laughs that happened to be every paragraph or so for some sections were incredibly grating.

2/5 stars. The only redeeming quality is that I think the plot idea was pretty cool. Thank you to Netgalley and the author for this copy to review.
Profile Image for Laura Snider.
Author 8 books119 followers
May 12, 2021
This audiobook is a solid 2.5, but I'm giving it three stars because I tend to round up (for the benefit of the authors). My review is best broken down into separate elements;

The character creation in this book is fantastic. Everyone is unique and they stay consistent with their personality types throughout the book. Even though there is a large cast of characters, nobody is easily confused with another and I was able to follow along with their stories. That said, they were all (for the most part) terrible people. So, I didn't much mind what was happening to them. This created a disconnect because there were lots of deaths but few meant much to me.

I got a "Game of Clue" type vibe from this book early on. The house is a grand estate and people go around killing one another. I don't mind the initial idea, but the premise "everyone is a shitty person" is not all that unique or mind blowing. Yes, people suck. I don't need to read a book about uninteresting murders to come to that conclusion.

Also, the ending was strange. I'm not sure why the *SPOILER ALERT* cook was blamed for the murders. There was mention of him "learning a lesson," but I'm not sure what that lesson could be. Maybe I missed something early on? But regardless, the ending fell short.

The Performance:
The narrator did a decent job. I could have done without the persistent, maniacal laughter, though.
Profile Image for Richard Dominguez.
876 reviews104 followers
December 2, 2020
After his mother passes away, 14 year old Kelly Benedict has no choice but to escape his home or perish at the hands of his remaining family.
Dead End Drive is Ms Kirkpatrick's debut novel and I have to say she doesn't disappoint. The story revolves around Kelly Benedict, one of the heirs to the vast fortune of his mother Agatha Benedict.
I loved this story, it reminded me so much of the early 40's and 50's black & white films I love where a group of "cut throat" family members gather together for the reading of a will.
Ms Kirkpatrick has skillfully created a cast of bad guys you are going to love. She also manages a great mix of blood and humor at a steady pace. Equally as impressive and fun is her ability to describe the house in detail without boring you or losing you in the process.
In a dark humor off kilter kind of way the story also touches on how far people are willing to go to get "theirs".
All in all I found this to be a quick and enjoyable read that I would recommend and read again.
Profile Image for *Tau*.
258 reviews25 followers
October 3, 2020
The premise reminds of Agatha Christie's And then there were none
Twelve people in an estate … by the morning, who of them will be gone?

And who'll have survived the nightly murder party and follow Agatha Benedict in her wake
By becoming the new heir of the landhouse? Discover it in this book with a humorous take

It starts really well …

The blurb promises an enthralling story laced with humour.
And in the beginning the book lives up to this expectation. Some of the main characters are introduced one by one. Although they're represented quite caricatural, the author manages to evoke suspension of disbelief thanks to good dark humour.

But then there's the will reading

As estate owner Agatha Benedict passed away, the traditions of the Benedict Estate prescribe that a will reading is to take place. All persons showing up will have to fight their way through the night. The one who still stands in the morning will inherit everything.

And it's at the exact moment of the will reading that the author begins to lose the attention of the reader.
There are too many characters at once from who only a handful gets to speak and another handful wasn't properly introduced yet in the former chapters. That's why it begins to feel like they're only staged when the author think it's required for the story and totally forgotten at other times.
On top of that, the characters don't seem to get their own distinctive voice, which makes them exchangeable.
When their reactions are increasingly implausible, the cardboard impression they give becomes totally complete and the reader couldn't care less what happens to them anymore.

The bad pacing

A book with such a good premise and start, should be unputdownable and spark the reader's interest at any time.
Sadly, this isn't the case because of a serious problem with the pacing.
Every time the reader suspects some action, (s)he first has to struggle through long descriptions of the room. What does it matter what sort of furniture stands there or how the ceiling is decorated?
It's understandable that those kind of extensive descriptions appear at the beginning of the story, to create a certain atmosphere and at the same time give the reader an insight in the decor where the action will take place.
But once the plot is well underway - and especially on decisive moments - it's only slowing down the whole and can be considered as pure page-filling.

And the editorial errors

Last but not least, this book needs a good editorial review.
As this was an ARC, it may already have occured. But if not, it's highly recommended.
Sentences that aren't correct, synonyms featuring beside each other, … contribute to a less smooth reading experience.


Although the basis of the story is implausible, the author manages to evoke suspension of disbelief in the beginning.
It's too bad that this couldn't be maintained throughout the entire story.
But as this is only Ian Kirkpatrick's debut and she proves to have real potential in the humorous field, she's definitely an author to keep an eye on.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Steak House Books for providing a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shelley.
221 reviews59 followers
March 3, 2023
Agatha Bennet has died, leaving her family to discover what Agatha has left them in her will. However, this is no normal reading of the will; it's a free-for-all for Agatha's relatives to win her estate. A storm leaves the family trapped inside the mansion, which is perfect circumstances for their deadly family tradition.

This book was...weird. It's marketed as a satirical horror, but I didn't really find anything funny about it. It was honestly cringey more than anything. None of the characters are likeable, which may be the point. This book was just not for me.
Profile Image for Joanne Tinkler (Mamajomakes).
226 reviews7 followers
May 25, 2021
Agatha Benedict is dead and her nearest and dearest have descended upon the Benedict estate for the reading of the will. Around the table are several people including Agatha’s adopted son Kelly, her hairstylist Alex and Gavin, estate and household manager. As expected, Kelly inherits the entire Benedict estate but what Kelly doesn’t expect is the tradition that comes after the will reading. It’s a game of cat and mouse involving all present and Kelly is going to survive the night he’ll need to play dirty.

This is a deliciously dark, funny and very different storyline with some outrageous but brilliant characters. The narrator tells the story in a bold and brash way that brings the listener a fly on the wall experience whilst giving life and depth to each character. Whilst I admit that this book mayn’t be for everyone, I enjoyed it very much

Thank you to Steak House Books and NetGalley for allowing me to listen to this audiobook in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for melhara.
1,345 reviews59 followers
September 4, 2020

This book reminded me of the 2019 movie Ready or Not, which involved a rich and mysterious family with their dark and crazy traditions

Oh, and an entire night of running around an estate fighting to the death.

Dead End Drive begins with the death of Agatha Benedict and her will reading. However, unbeknownst to the next heir in line, Kelly Benedict, the will reading has a dark history of turning into a bloodbath. Tradition dictates that the last one standing (or the person agreed upon by all parties) will be the true heir of the Benedict estate and fortune.

I received an ARC of this book, which definitely needs to go through a few more rounds of proofreading. However, I really liked the authors use of descriptive language when it came to establishing the greedy characters and illustrating the grandeur of the mansion. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the awkward dialogue. Also, I found it strange that the will wasn't read in its entirety at the will reading, and was only presented to the reader at the end. It's not as if the will offered a twist to the story or anything - the synopsis pretty much summarized the contents of the will. Hopefully that would change in the final copy of the book.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

*** #22 of my 2020 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge - Read a horror book published by an indie press ***
Profile Image for Laura.
400 reviews32 followers
January 4, 2021
I received an ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and publisher Steak House Books in exchange for an honest review.

Oh boy, this book was a mess. Originally I was going to give it 2 stars for having a decent premise, but having found out that it's based off a boardgame, that means the only things I liked about it aren't original at all.

Dead End Drive is about a family where, when someone dies, the battle for inheritance is a literal battle to the death. After the reading of the will, the person left alive in the morning will inherit everything. How can such a premise go wrong? Well, for starters the premise isn't actually introduced well within the book itself. People just start killing each other with no real explanation, which would have been very confusing if I hadn't read the blurb recently before starting it.

This book has two major problems. Firstly, the writing is not great. The pages are littered with both actual editorial mistakes (understandable for an ARC but there are a lot, far more than any other ARC I've ever had) and just poor writing choices. The characters are bland and, in the worst cases, harmful stereotypes. There is a gay stylist who constantly uses the word 'honey' and who, after murdering a black woman, insists on fixing her 'coarse dark hair'. I'm almost certain the racial implications of this were accidental but yikes.

The pacing is similarly poor. You get introduced to all the characters in very repetitive chapters, and then the one with the most personality instantly dies so you don't have a character you have a connection with. Far from being a bloodbath, the rest of the deaths are then paced very oddly. There is no real sense of tension or fear and none of the characters seem particularly scared or bothered by their situation. Again, the only character who wasn't aware of the bloodbath beforehand is murdered straight away so you don't get the benefits of following an outsider in this horrible situation.

Overall, I sadly can't recommend this book. I ended up skim-reading everything after 50% as I just didn't care enough. It's a shame because a book like this has such potential and some of the humour/horror elements were alright. It just had too little going for it.

Overall Rating: 1/5 stars
Profile Image for Belle.
603 reviews5 followers
September 4, 2020
*Free e-copy received in exchange for an honest review

When I read a book, I want to feel like the reader, not the editor. This book was littered with so many typos and mistakes, however I'm unable to verify whether this was the final copy or not. I do hope it wasn't & the book was cleaned up a lot before publishing, as it's already available for purchase.

Cover: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Premise: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Characters: ⭐
Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Execution: ⭐
Overall reading enjoyment: ⭐

Unfortunately this book and I didn't get along. Fantastic premise so I was really looking forward to it, but I didn't end up getting the 'playful game' I was promised. I really liked the setting of the old mansion but everything else fell flat for me. Something about the tone just wasn't there, I didn't feel engaged or excited. The story also jumps back and forth from past to present, with back stories that I didn't find added to the present scene or made it any more interesting.

We're introduced to so many different characters at the start, by the time we got to the dining table and the author listed them all off in order of where they were seated, I realised I couldn't remember half of them by name.

I also feel that perhaps even the author struggled to keep track of them. For all the people mentioned at the table (12), there is only dialogue and banter between 3. Then in the next scene it is much the same. It's as if some of the characters suffered from a sudden bout of muteness, and in Johnny's case especially, didn't manage to recuperate for several more chapters.

The idea was there but I just wasn't a fan of the execution. I didn't connect with or like any of the characters, I felt like half of them didn't have a voice and were unremarkable. The story wasn't exciting for me so I was disappointed. Ultimately, I just found it a little dull.
Profile Image for (the.darkandgritty.reader).
915 reviews33 followers
October 14, 2020
5/5 - 🌟 HAPPY RELEASE DAY! 10/13/20 🌟

Dead End Drive is the debut book of a seriously talented author. The premise is familiar but original at the same time — part coming of age, all murder mystery. The world building immerses the reader into a suspenseful bloody game of kill or be killed and the prize is an inheritance of The Benedict Estate.

The story manages a large cast of characters that are mostly despicable people, with a few roughly cut gems to round out the craziness.

I laughed at some of the murders. The car scene; and, hair washing scene are two examples. Bloody but hilarious.

As odd as it may sound I didn’t want to leave this world. While reading this novel, I held my breath when my favorites were in jeopardy and I never truly knew who would live to see daylight.

Two of my favorite scenes in this story are of the romantic variety. One shows realistic passion and the other is wrapped in a violent elegance. Both did an honor to each of the couples involved.

This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. And the best of 2020. Seriously, so damn good. I rarely want to reread books but this is one I will read many times over. I can’t wait for Ms. Kirkpatrick’s next release.

*** ARC provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,292 reviews35 followers
October 11, 2020
I really loved the premise and ideas here but it took a bit to get things going. I didn't really like the main character ver much. Kelly didn't come across well at the onset and that really set the tone for me. I did like the twists and turns and was glad I read it
Profile Image for Dez Nemec.
758 reviews25 followers
June 17, 2021
Agatha Benedict, the reigning matriarch of the Benedict estate, dies leaving her heirs, hangers-on, and household employees to fight for her riches. Kelly, her 14-year-old son/house pet, doesn't believe anything bad is going to happen. But boy, is he wrong. Within several minutes of the reading of the will, one person is dead. And that is only the beginning...

The Benedict family has an unusual tradition in the wake of the family head's death. A will is written and read, but it is not "finalized" until the next day. Through the night, it is a contest of survival of the fittest and whomever is alive in the morning wins the spoils.

I thought the concept was fascinating - just how badly do you want to inherit a LOT of money? But for some reason, this didn't work for me. Kelly, the "son" of the deceased, was basically only a replacement for her dead cat, Poopsie. I wanted to like her for taking in a poor orphaned boy living on the street, but he was 14 and she hadn't bothered to teach him anything, including how to read. Plus he was such a whiny brat. For having lived on the streets, he had no survival instinct. You want the poor boy to win and keep the estate (as deemed in the initial will), but it's hard to cheer for him when he just hides in his room with a case of the "no fairs."

Predictably, everyone else vying for Agatha's fortune was a creep in one way or another - the driver, the hair stylist, the tennis pro. There was really no one that deserved to live through the night. I'm not sure if it was due to the lack of likable characters, pacing of the story (which was a bit uneven), or my general crankiness that left me wishing for the whole damn estate to just burn down during the night.

I really liked the concept, but the book just did not work for me.
Profile Image for Jenna Rideout.
662 reviews55 followers
August 12, 2020
I was intrigued by the title of this novel, wondering if it was inspired by the board game 13 Dead End Drive, and it appears that it was. This modern thriller reads like a playthrough of the classic 90s board game, with every character matching a playable or backstory character from the game itself, and the setting and traps therein reflecting the board. Aunt Agatha, Madame Astra, and Beauregard keep their names and roles from the board game in this novel, while the rest of the novel's characters are renamed and sometimes gender-flipped versions of the remaining game pieces. Poopsie the cat has become an adopted son Kelly, who is often referred to as the cat or even Poopsie, the current Beauregard's true name is Mathias, Smothers the Butler is Gavin, Dusty the maid is Anna (an illegitimate daughter of Agatha and Bertrand), Doctor Charity is The Doc, gossip & friend of Agatha Lulu is Agatha's daughter Ellie, chauffer Parker is Clint, tennis coach Clay is Johnny, hairstylist Spritzy is Alex, chef Pierre is Angus, and gardener Hickory is Bertrand.

The Benedict estate has a peculiar and deadly tradition upon the death of the head of the house. A storm always comes on the night of the will reading, and once the desired heir has been named, all in attendance have two choices: accept the wishes of the deceased, or do whatever they can to correct the error, including murder. The person everyone left alive agrees is the correct heir or the last person standing when an officer arrives in the morning shall be the new head of the Benedict estate. This time around, upon the death of Agatha Benedict, the named heir is her adopted son Kelly, age 14, who will be needing a guardian and surrogate head of the house until he comes of age. Nobody agrees with Agatha's choice of guardian, and some don't agree that Kelly should inherit at all...

I thoroughly enjoyed how true the plot stayed to the backstory of the board game, and I particularly loved the scene where two characters attempt to murder just one other character using all five classic traps from the board game in succession. That was definitely the highlight of the book for me!

I also enjoyed the author's care in making sure that every character was three dimensional and had clear motivations. Bertrand was an intriguing character to read about, and Angus was a joy to read. Johnny came across as the sort of beautiful airhead villain we love to hate, and Alex is beautifully twisted.

That said, this book didn't grip me and hold me captive at any point. This was a put-downable read. I suspect this is because the forrays into character backstory were lengthy and came at odd times. For example, we spent 10 chapters after Agatha's death meeting characters before the will reading, and much of what we learn about Bertrand comes in the form of backstory flashbacks told long after the character is killed off. One such Bertrand flashback is even written in the present tense but comes many chapters after we witnessed his murder.

Overall this is a well-written novelization of a board game many of us 90s kids loved, and I think the nostalgia value alone is reason enough to read this book! If you like being told what's about to happen and then teased with it, even better.

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for making it possible for me to read an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Kristina ||.
349 reviews29 followers
May 8, 2021
Thanks to NetGalley and Steak House Books for the arc audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

The quality of the audiobook was done very well and the narrator did a pretty good job with trying to create different voices for the dozen of characters in this story.

The book is about an older lady with a fortune passing away and everyone in her life getting together to go over her will--then to fight for their portion. This reminded me a lot of the film Knives Out and a little bit of Clue. Definitely wasn't what I was expecting and way more violent, which helped make the story more interesting. For me though, there were way too many characters so I had a hard time following along and remember who was who. Not sure if I would of had a difficult time reading it physically but with the narrator changing his voice up for each person, that helped a little bit.

Overall, I thought the story was okay--I did want to know how it was going to end so I kept with it but the ending was a little "meh" for me.

Profile Image for Joanne Tinkler (Mamajomakes).
226 reviews7 followers
May 25, 2021
Agatha Benedict is dead and her nearest and dearest have descended upon the Benedict estate for the reading of the will. Around the table are several people including Agatha’s adopted son Kelly, her hairstylist Alex and Gavin, estate and household manager. As expected, Kelly inherits the entire Benedict estate but what Kelly doesn’t expect is the tradition that comes after the will reading. It’s a game of cat and mouse involving all present and Kelly is going to survive the night he’ll need to play dirty.

This is a deliciously dark, funny and very different storyline with some outrageous but brilliant characters. The narrator tells the story in a bold and brash way that brings the listener a fly on the wall experience whilst giving life and depth to each character. Whilst I admit that this book mayn’t be for everyone, I enjoyed it very much

Thank you to Steak House Books and NetGalley for allowing me to listen to this audiobook in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Elke.
1,429 reviews39 followers
September 24, 2020
I really wanted to enjoy this novel, as the premise sounded like so much fun. However, the supposed humor was totally lost on me. The characters were unoriginal, stereotypical, and flat in an exaggerated way. A lot of (aka too much) time was spent on describing the house's lavish interior in paragraphs I soon turned to skip reading. The murder scenes were somewhat OK, but in the end those brief moments could not save the book. What was expected to be a hilarious murder romp turned out to be a rather foolish attempt at a murder mystery parody, reminding me of those horrible movie parodies that were hot in the past. While others may enjoy this kind of humor, I just couldn't get into it.

(thanks to netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)
Profile Image for Jamey Goodyear.
160 reviews2 followers
October 14, 2020
Dead End Drive is the debut novel of writer Ian Kirkpatrick. It is a dark comedy, lots of murder with comedy.

On a dark and stormy night, a group of people come together in an isolated mansion to see who will inherit the millions from the recently deceased Agatha.

Through a variety of characters, we learn the true nature of the human. What everyone is capable of to get what they want if they make that choice. The book moves right along with the antics of the participants in this farcical tragedy. Poor little Kelly appears to be along for the ride, whether he wants to be or not.

With a touch of Agatha Christie and murder most foul, find out who you most identify with to know what your limits might be if put in the same situation.

A very enjoyable book. It is best for adults; I wouldn’t recommend it for most teens.
Profile Image for Lindy.
405 reviews6 followers
May 25, 2021
This was my first audiobook and I got it from netgalley so I assume the audiobook is just coming out now. The physical book has been out for awhile.

I’m not sure whether it was the narration, the book itself or just the fact I can’t “read” by listening but I had no clue what was going on. I couldn’t follow the characters, those I thought had died were in it still later on. I probably won’t read the physical book to find out.

Now since this is my first audiobook I have nothing to compare to, but I am not a fan of different voices/personas for each character. I think the narrator did a good job with it but it really irritated me. Overall story from what I could decipher was ok, the gore was great, I just found there were too many characters which made it hard to follow.
Profile Image for Linda ( Clary_Starfall ).
545 reviews5 followers
May 31, 2021
It was my first audio book, the different voices done by one person was something to adapt too.

But the story was good.
It made me think of cluedo, it’s an old game where someone during dinner gets killed and it was one of the other guests 😇

Some traditions shouldn’t be kept, but when the owner of the estate dies everything gets started...
By hearing the story told, my imagination was very busy with all the details of the murders and scènes..
It was fun and good.

If you love a good mystery/thriller than you should definitely listen/read this book
Profile Image for Jammin Jenny.
1,411 reviews190 followers
March 27, 2022
I thought the narration on this book was really well done. The narrator did a great job using different voices for the various characters in the story. That being said, I liked the story - it was all wrapped up in the end which is nice. If you like mysteries involving wills, inheritances and murder, then you will most likely enjoy this story. I would recommend the audio as the narrator does a great job.
Profile Image for Louise Gray.
745 reviews14 followers
October 3, 2020
A pretty good effort at a mystery with a dark twist. There were odd parts of humour in the book which I found quite appealing but dark humour may not appeal to everyone. I’m not sure this was a very original plot but the writing style is very engaging and the author painted vivid pictures of all characters, some of whom were really intriguing.
Profile Image for Kristin.
162 reviews6 followers
June 18, 2021
Just from the synopsis I knew I had to listen to this book. It’s like Agatha Christie’s book “And then there were None” meets the movie “Knives Out.” I was sucked in from chapter 1, especially not knowing who would be the last left standing, or if there would even be one! Yes, it’s a storyline that has been written various times but I guess having a 14 year old in the mix made it a little different. The ending did leave me with some unanswered questions, which is why my rating is 3 stars. I will say that the narration was spot on! While there were various characters it was easy to figure out who was talking by the change in accents.
Profile Image for Samuel.
1 review
August 20, 2020
I was recommended this title by a friend, and I will admit some level of hesitance when it comes to debut works, but I’m VERY glad I didn’t pass on this!

A lot of the content won’t be for everyone. Dark humor and even darker themes run rampant in the pages of Dead End Drive, but it isn’t all gore and violence! The setting, the cast, the writing, all made it an enjoyable read that I will gladly read over again once I have a physical copy in my hands.

After dear old Agatha Benedict passes away, those closest to her are gathered together for the traditional reading of the will to decide the fate of her estate. After the first victim hits the floor, the gloves are off. Alliances are formed (only to be put to the test as numbers dwindle) and old rivalries flare up. Caught amidst it all, Kelly’s instincts and survival skills are put to the test as he is forced to go toe to toe with the more…blood thirsty inhabitants of the estate. He has to navigate his ways through the estate, back to the wall to avoid taking a knife from the shadows, while trying to figure out who he can trust...if anyone.

The large ensemble cast of characters bring a lot to the table. There’s a lot to hate ( in the best way - Kirkpatrick has created a cast that I loved to hate! ) and even more to love. From the bitter old groundskeeper with a garden full of broken hearts to a murderous tennis player with enough pent up rage to level an entire city. Each character felt well thought through and fleshed out, which isn't always easy to accomplish with a big cast! I quickly developed a handful of favorites, as well as a select few that I desperately wanted to see picked off. ( You'll just have to read to see who all dies and survives! )

I look forward to adding this book to my shelf when it’s released.
Profile Image for Jess .
47 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2020
A fun read!!!
All the fun of a murder mystery party but without the mystery of who the killer is! ...
Since we do get to know the thoughts of both parties at that moment.
Definitely not an easily predictable ending!
Profile Image for Estella Mirai.
Author 1 book25 followers
January 15, 2021
Well, my first read of 2021 was certainly an odd one, I’ll give it that.

Dead End Drive starts out with a fascinating premise—wealthy matriarch Agatha Benedict is dead, and her family and servants gather at her mansion one stormy night to play a game where the winner receives her estate and all the riches that come with it, while the losers won’t escape with their lives. For the first couple of chapters, the setting and cast of characters serve the premise well, but unfortunately, the story then begins to sputter and ends up going nowhere—or at least, nowhere very interesting for me.

(Content warning: This review quotes passages from the book that contain homophobic slurs and fatphobia. The book itself also contains gore and a few racist terms used in a historical context but still possibly disturbing.)

I’m not really sure if this book can be said to have a real protagonist, but if I had to pick one character, I suppose the reader was supposed to be rooting for Kelly, Agatha’s adopted son. The problem with Kelly, and with many of the characters, though, is that even after spending an entire book with them, I still felt like I didn’t really know them. In Kelly’s case, we know that Agatha adopted him as a young boy, and not as a baby, but we don’t really know what his life was like before then. At age 14, he often seems much younger, and it’s mentioned several times that he can’t read or write, but we never know if that��s because of a learning disability or just plain neglect on Agatha’s part. (I have no problem with not giving the character an on-page diagnosis; lots of people are undiagnosed in real life. But there’s nothing that obviously, to me at least, even hints at a neurological reason why he might not be able to read.) During most of the story, he doesn’t do much, but when he DOES finally take action toward the end, it’s hard to feel much of anything about it because I just don’t really know him.

Many of the other characters suffer from the same problem. There are bits of backstory sprinkled in, but I just didn’t feel enough of an emotional connection with any of them that I became invested in the conflict.

The conflict itself, despite being a truly kickass premise, also kind of sputtered. Agatha’s will was read, and several characters mentioned “the rules”, but other than a suggestion that guns are not allowed, it never really became clear what the rules were. Characters mentioned forming alliances, but it was never really clear until the end whether more than one person could win as a team, or if it would come down to a “Katniss has to kill Peeta” kind of moment. I still have no idea how the cops and lawyers went along with this—that’s something that, on its own, I could kind of go for suspension of disbelief on (small town, people look the other way?) but on top of everything else, it just felt like this “ritual” wasn’t actually very ritualistic.

And while the setting of the Louisiana mansion was very well done, that other essential element of setting, time, was all over the place.
Agatha dies “of natural causes in her sleep at the age of 67 and there was no reason to suspect foul play”—which is, in and of itself, kind of odd. But then it’s mentioned that another character came to the US shortly after World War II, and was her classmate at school. So, even assuming he was born in 1945 and immigrated as a baby, that adds up to... 2012? And yet no one in the entire cast of characters seems to have a cell phone, computer, or any technology at all. Another character says his father died in the Vietnam war, but he is supposed to be Agatha’s much younger (and disposable) lover... is 40-something really a boy toy? And a 34-year-old character is repeatedly described as having crow’s feet, being “one foot in the grave”... the times and ages are just all over the place, and I found it really distracting. The author may very well have had a concrete timeline in mind, but I couldn’t figure out if this was supposed to be modern or not. Mention of the year, even if it’s just alongside the date and time at the beginning of each chapter, would’ve been nice.

(EDIT: I found it! The year is mentioned ONCE! It’s 1993, which fits with the WWII and Vietnam references, but it’s mentioned only in the date on the very first chapter. So, it’s there. The age thing still bothers me, though, and I was confused about the date through the whole book, so I’m going to leave my initial reaction there. Mentioning the date once in a header without really immersing us in the time period is still not something that works for me as a reader.)

Despite all of this, the writing style was, in general, eloquent and pleasant to read. I believe this is an indie book—the publisher is listed as “Steak House Books”; I’m not sure whether that’s a company the author has set up or if it’s a small press, but in either case, it was well-written and, I assume, edited. But I was never quite sure if the author was trying (and often failing) to be funny, attempting to convey some larger truth, or just... writing murder for the sake of murder? The book’s blurb calls it a comedy, but if a (gay) character calling a man named Gavin “Gay-vin” and then using the R-word to insult another character in the same sentence is supposed to be funny, count me out. Other phrases I highlighted as “definitely not funny” include:

(Referring to a gay, Jewish character)
“Clearly, disease God created for your people.”
“AIDs.” [sic]

(Referring to a fat character)
Too often when she waddled her way through the hall, her hips juggled side to side in large, swaying movements. She knocked the suit [of armor] down if it was made of paper. She had chipped the marble more than once. She had almost accidentally released the chandelier while walking around the sofa.”

Um, yeah. Ha, ha.

Overall... this started out with a lot of promise but ultimately failed to live up to it. I loved the premise and loved the Clue-ish vibes the book started out with... but in the end, at least for me, it dissolved into an unfunny mess.

EDIT: After reading some of the other reviews (something I try not to do before I finish forming my own opinion!), I now know that the general premise and many of the characters came from a board game that is most definitely not old enough to be in the public domain... that’s disappointing. And probably not legal.
22 reviews
September 1, 2020
Kelly Benedict's mother has just died. Unfortunately, she never told him about the Benedict estate rules. He is the presumed heir to the estate, presuming he can manage to survive until morning. For the rules state that when the present owner dies, it's open season on any and all who would like to get their hands on the Benedict fortune.
A grimly humorous version of And Then There Were None, set in the Louisiana swamps. Kelly can trust no one, especially the gleefully murderous group of formerly loyal employees that has him in their sights. All he can do is run, hide, and hope he makes it to morning. Who will survive to greet the dawn?
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