Dead Letters: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Caite Dolan-Leach

Narrated By: Jorjeana Marie

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: February 2017

Duration: 13 hours 37 minutes


A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel of suspense for readers of Luckiest Girl Alive and Reconstructing Amelia.

“Ahoy, Ava! Welcome home, my sweet jet-setting twin! So glad you were able to wrest yourself away from your dazzling life in the City of Light; I hope my ‘death’ hasn’t interrupted anything too crucial.”

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister.

Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way, Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava’s heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving, or to teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Featuring a colorful, raucous cast of characters, Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut thriller takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.

Advance praise for Dead Letters

“In this, her startling debut novel, Dolan-Leach nimbly entwines the clever mystery of Agatha Christie, the wit of Dorothy Parker, and the inebriated Gothic of Eugene O’Neill. A sharp, wrenching tale of the true love only twins know.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An exceptionally smart debut, Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach is about estranged twin sisters playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game on their family’s upstate New York vineyard, turning up long-buried family secrets, hidden terrors, and a tantalizing love triangle—a story that kept me guessing and compulsively turning pages to reach its surprising and very satisfying end.”—Carla Buckley, author of The Good Goodbye

“Newcomer Caite Dolan-Leach shows us just how close twin sisters can be—and how shockingly far apart. With near-perfect plotting and an ear for the complicated lives of clever women, Dolan-Leach writes like Paula Hawkins by way of Curtis Sittenfeld.”—Amy Gentry, author of Good as Gone

“A clever and compelling mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.”—Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood and Arrowood

“This absorbing debut is billed as literary suspense, which is exactly right; the language is smart and polished and the plot is one big, intriguing chase.”—Library Journal


  • Katie C

    Oh my god this family! The mother is an alcoholic and has been diagnosed with dementia. The father is a chronic adulterer and abandoned his family to have another. Finally, Ava runs away from her problems. They all seem to hate one another. Mom, dad, and Ava are always taking little digs at one another. The whole family is passive aggressive. There's definitely a lot of play on the alphabet and the letters in the novel. It took me until chapter 3 to realize that there are 26 chapters each starting from A-to-Z with the letter of the alphabet. There's also a lot of alliteration and the games from Zelda. Zelda betrayed Ava no doubt over a boy which is totally cliché. That's the main reason Ava took off to Paris for 2 years. When she hears of Zelda's death, Ava starts to investigate whether Zelda is dead or if she has disappeared. She knows Zelda better than anyone else and knows that there's something unusual about the manner of her death. There is not a single likable character in the novel. Not even Wyatt who loves Ava unconditionally even though she treats him like crap. He's like a lost puppy dog. I definitely want to stop reading this and classify it as a did not finish but I was slightly intrigued with what was going on with Zelda.

  • Barbara Elfman

    Wonderful characters and great story. I usually can figure out mysteries early on, but this kept me going!