Dead Letters By Caite Dolan Leach: Book's Review and Summary

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach: A Thrilling Mystery with a Compelling Narrative Voice

If you are looking for a book that will keep you on your toes until the end, you might want to check out Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach. This novel, published in 2017, follows the story of Ava Antipova, a young woman who receives a disturbing notice that her estranged twin sister, Zelda, has died in a fire. However, Ava soon discovers that Zelda might not be as dead as everyone thinks, and she embarks on a dangerous journey to unravel the truth.

But Dead Letters isn’t just about solving a mystery. Throughout the book, Dolan-Leach explores themes of family, identity, addiction, and the blurred lines between reality and illusion. She also showcases her talent for crafting complex, flawed, and relatable characters, and for using vivid descriptions to immerse the reader in the setting.

The Author: Caite Dolan-Leach

Caite Dolan-Leach is a writer from Michigan who currently lives in France. She graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, with a degree in English and creative writing, and then earned an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton. Her debut novel, Dead Letters, has received critical acclaim and has been compared to the works of Gillian Flynn, Tana French, and Donna Tartt.

Themes and Ideas

As mentioned before, Dead Letters is not just a mystery novel. It’s a story about the bonds and conflicts that exist within a family, and how those ties can shape a person’s identity and sense of self. The relationship between Ava and Zelda is at the heart of the book, and Dolan-Leach does a great job at portraying their dynamic with subtlety and nuance.

Another recurring theme in the book is addiction, which is explored through several characters, including Ava and Zelda’s mother, Nadine. Dolan-Leach doesn’t shy away from depicting the chaos and devastation that addiction can bring, but she also shows how it can be a coping mechanism for people who feel lost or misunderstood.

The concept of reality is also a major element in Dead Letters. Throughout the book, the characters grapple with the idea of what is true and what is not, and how memories, perceptions, and emotions can distort reality. This theme is especially relevant in the age of fake news and alternative facts.

The Writing Style

Dolan-Leach’s writing style is one of the strengths of Dead Letters. She has a sharp, witty, and observant narrative voice that adds humor and depth to the story. The book is also well-paced, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming.

However, some readers might find the book’s non-linear structure and frequent flashbacks confusing or disorienting. Also, while the characters are well-developed, some of their actions and motivations might seem unrealistic or contrived.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Dead Letters is a well-crafted and engaging novel that combines mystery, psychology, and literary flair. If you enjoy books that challenge your assumptions and keep you guessing, you will probably enjoy this one.


Q: Is Dead Letters suitable for all ages?

A: No. The book contains explicit language, drug use, and sexual content, and is recommended for mature readers.

Q: Does Dead Letters have a sequel?

A: No, Dead Letters is a standalone novel.

Q: Can I read Dead Letters as an e-book?

A: Yes, Dead Letters is available in various electronic formats, such as Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.

Q: What is the page count of Dead Letters?

A: Dead Letters has 352 pages in the paperback edition.

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