Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little

If I say socialite, what do you think of? Blonde hair? Fake tan? Manicure? Plastic surgery? Lack of intelligence? Put all your preconceptions to one side and meet Jane Jenkins.

In 2003, Jane Jenkins was convicted of killing her mother, Swiss American Socialite and philanthropist, Marion Elsinger. She has no idea whether she did it or not but ten years later her conviction has been overturned following the mismanagement of evidence by Los Angeles County Crime Lab. Jenkins is going to find out whether she’s guilty or not and she’s taking us along for the ride.

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 headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a place to Hawaii.
       Oh, I thought I was so clever.
       But you probably already know that I’m not.

I mean, come on, you didn’t think I was just going to disappear, did you?…It was the not knowing – that’s what I couldn’t stand. That’s why I’m here.

The case and Jane are infamous and the evidence is stacked against her:

The only fingerprints in my mother’s room: mine. The only DNA under my mother’s nails: mine. The only name written in blood next to my mother’s body: definitely mine.

Jane cuts her hair, eats junk food in an attempt to gain weight, and dresses badly. Not only does she need to remain inconspicuous where she’s going, she also needs to make sure she isn’t spotted by someone who could alert the press or worse, Trace Kessler, crime blogger, who’s offered a $50,000 award for information leading to Jane’s whereabouts.

She sets off on a train heading for Chicago – where she has no intention of going – with only the following overheard conversation between her mother and an unidentified male on the night of her mother’s murder as the basis for her expedition:

“- you think I won’t –“
“Fuck you –“
“What you did –“
“- get away with anything –“
“No one will –“
“I never –“

Things I loved about Dear Daughter:

  • the voice – direct, smart (despite what she told you in that first quotation) and deliciously cutting;
  • the structure – most of the chapters end with a media (often social media) piece that either moves the plot on, fills in information we haven’t been given yet or tells us how much closer Trace is to finding Jane.
  • the plot – it’s so brilliantly twisty and turny – I almost missed my bus stop and I gasped out loud at least once.
  • the ending – I didn’t see it coming at all and it’s fabulous.

Have I gushed enough?


Thanks to Harvill Secker for the review copy.

0 thoughts on “Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little

  1. I keep debating with myself whether to read this for the dementia issue that hits close to home, although not too close thankfully! I just wrote a comment on another blog on feeling uneasy with ill bodies (ha! ironic taking into account my love for crime ficiton, right?), because the same happens with characters suffering from cancer. But you make this book sound up my alley, way up.

    • Oh it’s not like Elizabeth Is Missing, she just can’t remember whether she committed the crime or not. It’ll all make sense when you get to the end!