Good Rich People, the latest novel by Eliza Jane Brazier, is deliciously wicked, and I, for one, couldn’t get enough. I finished this book in one day, not something I do very often. Dark, twisted, and laugh-out-loud funny, this thriller is a sure-fire bet to get you out of any reading slump. Read on to discover why this just became one of my favorite books of the year. And it’s only January!
This blog is reader-supported. I earn a small commission from affiliate links in this post when you click on the link (at no cost to you). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, visit my legal page.
Graham and Lyla literally have it all: mansion, fancy cars, yachts, private islands. They’re so rich they’re bored. After all, being rich affords you the luxury of being bored. And they are most definitely rich. Only Graham’s mother, Margo, is richer, and she’s just as bored.
Recognizing her husband’s need for stimulating entertainment, Lyla has always turned a not-so-blind eye to “the game” he and his mother play. They like to lure unsuspecting victims into the guest house and prey upon them. But last time really hit home for Lyla. She’s left shaken, but not as shaken as Graham’s confidence in her. Can she still be trusted to guard the family secrets? To be sure, he has to put her to the test.
Lyla’s target is the new tenant, Demi, who’s just moved in downstairs. On paper, she has it all, too, which is why Lyla can’t figure out why she’s moved into the guesthouse. After all, Demi supposedly makes more money than Graham, so something doesn’t seem right. Is this a setup, some twist that Margo threw in to get rid of Lyla? It’s true that Margo’s never really liked her anyway, but would she stoop so low as to throw the game?
There was a time when Margo offered to pay Lyla to not marry her son, told her to name any price! But Lyla didn’t take the bait. She loved Graham, and she still does. She’ll do anything to keep her man, and her mother-in-law, happy. Recognizing the need for a big gesture, Lyla organizes a birthday party Graham won’t forget. But as the game progresses, things get messy. People aren’t who they seem, and trust is just a five-letter word.
To say that Good Rich People was a mind game is an understatement. Just when I thought I’d guessed what was going to happen next, I was completely taken by surprise. The author did a great job using the dichotomy of poverty and wealth to create a canvas of degradation and immorality. I didn’t know I could love something so sick! What does that say about me?
Dark, sadistic, twisted, frighteningly pathologic: these are just a few words for the characters in this un-put-downable book. None of the characters in this book are remotely likable. Initially, we’re fooled into thinking Demi might be the only redeemable character, but those hopes are eventually dashed. These characters are terrible people. Despite the depravity, I still found myself choosing sides and picking favorites to win “the game.” The immorality of each of the characters might make it difficult for readers to emotionally connect with them, which may be a turnoff for some. But there’s an aspect of schadenfreude that kept me flipping pages.
One of the things that stood out to me was the Los Angeles landscape, both figurative and literal. I drive by the underpasses like the ones mentioned in the book all the time. My boyfriend and I go for long walks in the Hollywood Hills where Margo’s mansion would be, and we daydream about what it would be like to live in one of the many mansions perched high above the canyons. Wealth here in Los Angeles is worn like a badge of honor, on display for everyone, rich or poor, to see. Just last week we saw a Rolls Royce Phantoms (like the one Graham drives) sitting in the local burger joint parking lot. I guess even rich people need a good burger every now and then.
To know that degree of poverty or wealth exists in any degree of harmony is cognitive dissonance defined. And that very same dissonance is required in reading this epic thriller. The author perfectly captures the apathy, fear, loathing, and ignorance of “the rich,” while simultaneously capturing the desolation, isolation, and desperation of “the poor”. Having worked as a social worker in Los Angeles for more than 10 years, I can honestly say this book’s portrayal comes very painfully close to the stories I’ve heard firsthand by people experiencing homelessness. When you least expect it, the author sucker punches you with the reality of a day in the life of the unhoused.
In my opinion, Brazier also deserves praise for the dual points of view and timeline hopping. It was easy to keep track of what was going on despite the frequent changes. I found myself wanting more of each character’s perspective each time the story shifted, which, to me, is the sign of a good storyteller. The chapters are short, the dialogue crisp and witty, and the inner monologues are scathingly funny.
My immediate response to Good Rich People when I finished was “what did I just read?” It was the wildest ride, and I didn’t want to get off! In fact, as much as I wanted to know what happened, I didn’t want this book to end. All in all, this one was a winner for me in so many ways. This was my first book by the author, and I honestly can’t wait to read more of her work. If you like dark and twisted, this is definitely the book for you, but if you struggle with amoral, evil characters, I’d say enter at your own risk. Thankn you Netgalley and Berkley Pubishing for this e-Arc in exchange for my honest opinion!