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Review: The Family Tree by Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry

Hey everyone!

Yesterday was my stop on the @AvonBooksUK blog tour for The Family Tree by Steph Mullin & Nicole Mabry, where I shared a guest post.
Today, to tie in with the blog tour, I am sharing my review of The Family Tree.

Title: The Family Tree
Author: Steph Mullin & Nicole Mabry
Release Date: 10th June 2021
Publisher: Avon Books
Page Count: 400
Buy It Here (affiliate links): Amazon UKWaterstonesBook Depository

GoodReads Synopsis:

The DNA results are back. And there’s a serial killer in her family tree…

Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer…

The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind – only bodies.

Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it’s too late?

A gripping, original thriller for fans of My Lovely Wife, Netflix’s Making a Murderer, and anyone who’s ever wondered what their family tree might be hiding…

My Review:

Firstly, I want to say huge thank you to Avon Books and NetGalley for my copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review, and also thank you to Avon Books for allowing me to be a part of the tour.

The story begins from the perspective of the killer, reading a newspaper article about himself, before quickly moving on to the introduction of Liz and her cousin, Andie. Andie has given Liz a ’23AndMe’ ancestry kit for her birthday, and this is where the Liz learns that she is adopted. It’s like a bombshell has been dropped on her life, turning her world completely upside down. It isn’t long before the FBI get in touch with Liz, and reveal that her DNA shows a familial link to a notorious serial killer, who has never been found. I really enjoyed the beginning of this story, it was gripping, and exciting, and makes you desperate to find out the truth.

Using DNA from ancestry websites to help with police investigations is such an interesting idea, and to think that this has actually happened in real life cases is fascinating. I am massively interested in true crime, so this is something that has really intrigued me, and I will definitely be looking in to case where this has happened. I have never seen this used in a book before, so I loved this aspect of the book.

I really enjoyed the chapters in between Liz’s story, which went back in time to each set of victims. It gave you a real idea of the killer, and how he works. I also liked that each chapter with a new set of victims stories seemed to pick up from the stage in the killer’s process that the last ones finished at, it gave you more of an understanding as to what these victims had to endure before their deaths. For me, these chapter’s were actually one of the best parts of the book.

To be honest, I didn’t like Liz very much. I understand that she was going through a lot, but she just didn’t seem like a great person. Firstly, she abandons her adoptive family… Yes, she was upset, with good reason, but she just didn’t give them a chance to explain, and if she had of she would have seen that they were just trying to do what was best for her. These people raised her, loved her, and gave her everything she needed, and I just thought the way she turned her back on them was really awful. Secondly, she openly discusses the case with more than one person, despite the FBI specifically telling her not to. She could have destroyed the entire investigation! She also actively and knowingly puts not only herself, but the people around her in danger. She made A LOT of questionable decisions throughout the book, and I felt that she behaved in a childish and selfish way.
But, then we have Andie, and her boyfriend, Travis. I really liked them both. They seemed like genuinely good people, who genuinely just wanted to help, and wanted what was best for Liz, and they didn’t stop trying despite the fact that Liz didn’t seem to be listening.

I do feel that the book slowed down in the 2nd half, and apart from the victim chapters, there wasn’t a huge amount happening. It became more of a slow burn, feeding you little bits of information, and pieces to the puzzle. I did love trying to piece them all together, and I had a couple of theories along the way as to who the killer was, and actually one of them turned out to be correct!

I was a little disappointed by the ending, as I felt it was a little anticlimactic, there was no overly exciting reveal or anything, but it was still all tied up nicely. And then you got the epilogue… It wasn’t needed, and if I’m honest, I really didn’t like it. I would have rather not had it, and that the story had ended without it.

As you can see from my review, I did have a couple of issues with this book which will be reflected in my rating, but as a whole, I found it to be an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it, especially if you enjoy a slow burn thriller.

I give The Family Tree a 3.5 star rating!

About The Authors:

Steph Mullin:

Steph works by day as Creative Director for a Media, Entertainment and Digital Marketing Solutions company, using early mornings, nights, and weekends to write fiction. Steph’s dream of becoming a writer started at age 6, followed by winning scholastic writing awards and crafting articles for her university’s literary magazine.

In her 20’s, she became engrossed in true crime podcasts and literature, which later became the perfect source of inspiration to launch her second career writing dark and twisty thrillers. In 2018, Steph relocated from NYC to Charlotte, North Carolina where she currently resides with her husband and her rescue puppy. Outside of reading, writing, and playing with her dog, you may find her sipping on a soy latte, watching a new movie, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.


Nicole Mabry:

Nicole works in television as Senior Manager of Post Production in the photography department. She is the author of Past This Point (2019, Red Adept Publishing), an award winning apocalyptic women’s fiction novel. 

Past This Point was chosen as Best Book of the Year by Indies Today and won First Place in the Global Thriller division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards. For more information on Past This Pointclick here.


Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime. After Steph relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018, they continued to collaborate creatively. Separated by 5 states, they spend countless hours scheming via Facetime and editing each other’s typos in real time on live Google docs. The Family Tree is the writing duo’s first co-authored crime novel.

Disclaimer: My posts often include affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission for any purchase made through my links, but with no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me and my blog.


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