Thicker Than Water
By: Megan Collins
Narrators: Gail Shalan, Emily Tremaine Simon
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 07/11/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)
Two sisters-in-law find themselves at painful odds when the man who connects them—the brother of one, the husband of the other—is accused of a brutal crime in this twisty thriller from the author of the “exceedingly entertaining” (The New York Times) The Family Plot.
Julia and Sienna Larkin are sisters-in-law, connected by Julia’s husband and Sienna’s brother, Jason. More than that, the two are devoted best friends and business partners, believing that theirs is a uniquely unbreakable bond. To Sienna, her protective brother can do no wrong, and although Julia knows he’s not perfect, they’ve built a comfortable life and family together. Recently, Jason has been putting in long hours to secure a promotion at work, so when his boss is found brutally murdered—his lips sewn shut—the Larkins are shocked and unsettled, especially as local gossip swirls.
A few days later, Julia and Sienna’s lives are upended when Jason gets into a car accident and is placed in a medically induced coma. Worse, the police arrive with news that he’s the prime suspect in the murder investigation. With Jason unable to respond—and with Julia and Sienna working to clear his name—the two women find their friendship threatened for the first time: Sienna staunchly maintains her brother’s innocence, but as their investigation uncovers a complicated web of secrets, Julia is less sure she’s willing to defend her husband.
With her signature “moody and atmospheric” (USA TODAY) writing, Megan Collins has crafted a rich, gripping story that explores just how fragile our closest bonds can be.
About the Author
Photo Credit: Tania Palermo
Megan Collins is the author of Thicker Than Water, The Family Plot, Behind the Red Door, and The Winter Sister (Atria/Simon & Schuster). She received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and she holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University, where she was a teaching fellow.
She has taught creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Central Connecticut State University, and she is Managing Editor of 3Elements Review. A Pushcart Prize and two-time Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Compose, Linebreak, Off the Coast, Spillway, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Rattle. She lives in Connecticut.
Connect with the Author
Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW.
Behind the Book
Q. Give us your best ELEVATOR PITCH for THICKER THAN WATER.
MEGAN: THICKER THAN WATER is about two BFF sisters-in-law who believe they have an unbreakable bond until the man who connects them—the husband of one, the brother of the other—becomes the prime suspect of a brutal crime, and as the two women work together to clear his name, they find themselves on opposite sides for the very first time, one more certain than ever of his innocence, the other unsure she can defend him at all.
Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?
MEGAN: The seed of this idea was planted when my agent expressed interest in seeing a “sister-in-law thriller”—not necessarily from me; she was just hopeful to see one in her inbox, whether from a current client or a querying writer. For a while, I pondered what a “sister-in-law thriller” might mean to me and the type of suspense I’m used to writing, but it wasn’t until I was driving to work one day that the premise (two close sisters-in-law find themselves at painful odds when the man who connects them is accused of a high-profile murder) popped into my head. I grabbed my phone and made a voice memo of the idea so I wouldn’t forget it—and that’s when I learned I am not good at speaking my ideas aloud; the voice memo was nothing but giddy gibberish.
Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Your favorite character to write, and/or most challenging?
MEGAN: I loved writing Sienna in this book. She’s someone who knows how to hold a grudge, who’s triggered by injustices, who can sometimes be quick to anger, but she’s also fiercely loyal and funny and thoughtful. She ends up asking herself big questions in this book: How do we continue on after justice isn’t served? How do we reconcile the love we have for others with the bad things we know they’ve done? I never felt like I had to “discover” her as I went; I always knew who she was and enjoyed translating my vision of her onto the page. On the other hand, my most challenging character to write was Jason—mostly because he spends a lot of the book in a coma, so we really only see him through Sienna and Julia’s thoughts and memories, which are pretty biased. But once I realized his core “wound” and what he felt he needed to do to treat it, I understood him a lot better and was able to provide more texture to his relationships with both his wife and sister.
Q. DID YOU KNOW? Name 1-5 things that readers may not know about THICKER THAN WATER.
1. This is the first time I’ve written a core relationship in a book that doesn’t start off completely dysfunctional. This time, I focus on a family who actually thinks they are perfectly functional—until something happens that shows them all the darkness and cracks that have been there all along.
2. What you’ll read in the published version of THICKER THAN WATER is about 90% different than the draft I initially turned into my editor. It required a complete rewrite, in which I changed the point of view, added characters, deleted characters, created a new plot, and made it a dual POV narrative. I did all that in three months, and while it was really painful and a lot of hard work at the time, I’m SO glad I did it, because it turned the book into something I’m really proud of.
3. This is the first time I’ve written from the point of a mother—to a teenage son, no less. One of the main characters, Julia, had her son Aiden when she was 23, and now she’s 38 and trying to help him navigate the already difficult circumstances of being a teenager while also protecting him from some big family secrets that are coming to light. And while I’m not a mother myself, I was a high school teacher for twelve years, so I modeled some of Aiden’s gestures, behaviors, and interests off of students I had.
Q. UPCOMING: Can you share what you are currently working on or what is next in ten words or less (or more)?
MEGAN: My current project is about a woman who becomes romantically obsessed with the husband of her heart donor—even as rumors swirl that he might have had something to do with his wife’s premature death. It’s scheduled to be published in early 2025!
Now, for more up close up and personal with Megan, below!
FAVORITE SONG OR ARTIST?
Taylor Swift. She is simply one of the best songwriters of our generation, and I feel lucky to be alive at the same time as her. As for favorite song, her ten-minute version of “All Too Well” is a masterpiece.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO WRITE?
In a quiet, temperature-controlled room with a view of the ocean
A CHARACTER YOU HAVE WRITTEN THAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?
My most recent favorite is Wyatt from Thicker Than Water. There’s one big reason why I should actually dislike him (something he’s done that is usually a dealbreaker for me), but he won me over so much as I was writing him, and now I would die for him.
IF YOU COULD ELIMINATE ONE THING FROM YOUR DAILY LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Anxiety. My brain always finds something to be anxious about, and even though I’m on medication to help me cope with it, it’s still a daily nuisance!
HOW DO YOU RELAX?
Reading on the couch or visiting a bookstore
DESCRIBE ONE THING ON YOUR DESK, CURRENTLY?
A small, light green crystal skull that the author Amina Akhtar gave me. I hold it while I write—well, while I’m thinking of what to write. My fingertips fit perfectly in the little eye sockets, which I realize is a very creepy thing to say, but it makes it comfortable to hold!
YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM? (Or would you prefer none of them)?
Right now, I’m really loving TikTok. I resisted it for so long, positive that I had nothing to offer in that space, but I actually have a lot of fun creating videos and scrolling (endlessly) through other people’s content.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
Six, but only four of them have been published, and I’m currently working on what will be my fifth published book.
NAME A TRAIT YOU INHERITED FROM YOUR DAD OR MOM? (Good or bad)
My dad has a very dry sense of humor—so dry that people sometimes can’t even tell that he’s joking. I definitely take after him in that respect.
WHAT ARE YOU LOVING RIGHT NOW?
I went to see Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour last month, and now I’m obsessed with reliving it through videos—mine and ones I find on TikTok.
A FAVORITE INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE?
My local indie, River Bend Bookshop, in Glastonbury, Connecticut. The shop is located inside an old house, so it has a very cute and cozy feel to it. Plus, the people who work there are the best.
THE LAST BOOK YOU RAVED ABOUT?
HESTIA STRIKES A MATCH by Christine Grillo. It’s about a forty-two-year-old woman who wades back into the dating pool—amongst America’s second Civil War in 2023. It’s funny and timely, and somehow both unsettling and comforting.
WHAT ARE YOU ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT?
Books, cake, dogs, miniatures, Taylor Swift
WHAT ARE EARLIER JOBS YOU HAD BEFORE BECOMING AN AUTHOR?
I’ve been a housecleaner, a bookseller, a newspaper reporter, and a teacher.
COULD YOU RECOMMEND ANY BOOKS THAT YOU HAVE READ RECENTLY AND LOVED?
YELLOWFACE by R.F. Kuang, ADELAIDE by Genevieve Wheeler, and HYSTERICAL by Elissa Bassist
Too many to name, but I’ll give a shout out to Rachel Harrison. She is writing the most relatable, entertaining, feminist horror, and I love it.
A FAVORITE PODCAST?
My comfort-listen is Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. Not only does it include great celebrity interviews, but I also love the banter between Conan and the other two hosts.
WHAT ARE YOU FREAKISHLY BAD AT?
Reading maps! I cannot understand them for the life of me.
THE FUNNIEST THING A BOOK REVIEWER HAS SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOK? (OR CRAZY WEIRD)
One time, someone complained that THE WINTER SISTER, my debut, didn’t actually take place in winter. That one was a head-scratcher because (1) it takes place in January and February, and (2) there’s a big snowstorm at the beginning of the book, and there’s snow on the ground for the rest of it.
Thank you, Megan, for spending time with us today!
BE SURE AND PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THICKER THAN WATER! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Cannot wait to hear your thoughts.
“Megan Collins does it again, bringing readers another page-turner primed for summer .... This twisty-turny novel shows the fraught nature of relationships, particularly between the family you're born into and the family you choose.”
“A page-turner told from alternating points of view, this thriller from Collins (The Family Plot) will especially appeal to those who enjoy exploring complicated female friendships.”
“[An] impressive thriller . . . . Admirers of William Landay’s similarly themed Defending Jacob will be riveted.”
“Thicker Than Water is an incredible achievement: an emotionally rich family drama married seamlessly to a murder mystery so arresting and briskly paced it will captivate even the most seasoned thriller reader. I fell in love with Collins’ characters and rooted for their catharsis as deeply as I yearned for answers to the horrific violence underpinning the story, and these twin hooks made the book impossible to put down. What a multi-layered marvel.”
—Ashley Winstead, author of The Last Housewife
“Thicker Than Water is a haunting, ethereal, and mesmerizing domestic suspense novel that confirms Megan Collins’ place as one of the sharpest, most entertaining writers in crime fiction. THICKER THAN WATER creates a potent blend of powerful, kinetic plot and thoughtfully crafted characters, resulting in a story about the seemingly unbreakable bonds we take for granted unraveling in front of our very eyes. I loved this book.”
—Alex Segura, author of Secret Identity
"Thicker Than Water starts off with a bang and never lets up! Collins has crafted a taut, emotionally-charged, and propulsive thriller that will have you burning through the pages until you reach the completely unpredictable and shocking conclusion."
—Jeneva Rose, New York Times bestselling author of You Shouldn't Have Come Here
“Megan Collins proves once again she’s the queen of layered family dynamics in this fast-moving mystery where forgiveness, friendship, haunting secrets, and bad behavior mix to deliver an emotional punch.”
—Darby Kane, international bestselling author of The Last Invitation
"Megan Collins is back with another brilliant suspense, Thicker Than Water, this time around two sisters-in-law and the man connecting them who’s suspected of murder. Creepy and atmospheric, with quirky and nuanced characters, this is a slow-burn that will have you thinking twice about the people you know. An absolute must-read from an author who continues to impress."
—Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of The Personal Assistant
“Megan Collins has done it again! In Thicker Than Water, Collins has given us another immersive nail-biter. Building on her superb talent for creating imperfect, multi-layered characters, Collins has penned a twisty, expertly paced mystery that explores the intricacies of friendship, family, and the depths one will go to protect those they love. Absolutely unputdownable.”
—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Overnight Guest
“Thicker Than Water is a complex and moving thriller about the stories we choose to believe, that sometimes paper over the very rotten things beneath.”
—Sarah Langan, author Good Neighbors
“A savage murder, the main suspect in a coma and best friends whose lives are changed forever - I relished every moment of this deep, dark exploration of trust, friendship and betrayal. Collins has ramped the murder mystery up a notch to take us on a nail-biting emotional and psychological journey. Leave your expectations at the door because on this ride every twist is a winner.”
—Janice Hallett, author of The Appeal
"Thicker Than Water is a twisty, propulsive thriller with a powerful emotional heart at its core. Through a dark and clever mystery, Megan Collins examines the bonds of family, love, and friendship, and masterfully explores the meaning of culpability and forgiveness.”
—Robyn Harding, internationally bestselling author of The Drowning Woman
"Megan Collins’s Thicker Than Water is a triumph. Her writing is sharp and perceptive and the dual narrative gallops at a fantastic pace that left me breathless and wanting more. Each twist and turn feels earned as does the resolution. And at the heart is a beautiful friendship that shows how your chosen family can be more important than blood. You need this book in your life." —Catherine McKenzie, USA Today bestselling author of Have You Seen Her
The queen of family dramas, Megan Collins, returns following The Family Plot with her latest gripping psychological suspense, THICKER THAN WATER—A family bond is tested when a husband/brother is suspected of murder, leaving the two sisters-in-law to seek answers.
A favorite author, I have read all her books; no one does complex family relationships better than Megan Collins! Two sisters-in-law are connected to a man suspected of murder and in a coma. Is he guilty or innocent? Everyone is keeping secrets in this gripping domestic suspense. How far will they go to protect those they love?
Julia is married to Jason with a young son Aiden. Sienna is Jason's sister. She and Julia are BFFs and business partners.
Jason's parents were killed in an automobile accident, and he inherited the family home where he and Julia reside. She is not wild about the wallpaper, decor, and more.
The two women have different personalities. Julia is mind-mannered, trustworthy, and patient. Sienna is impulsive, quick to anger, and fiery.
Jason's boss, Gavin, is murdered.
Jason is in an automobile accident and a coma.
Jason is the prime suspect in Gavin's murder.
Now the sisters-in-law must join forces to prove this innocence.
A brutal odd murder. Someone stabs him, smothers him, and sews his lips shut. Why?
Julie and Sienna are keeping secrets from one another. Even though they pretend they bare all. Jason withdrew $10K from their joint account. They were saving for a second honeymoon since they did not have a first one—so Julia is unsure about Jason's innocence.
Sienna is currently dating her ex-boyfriend, Wyatt, who cheated on her, but she has not told Julia. She thinks her brother can do no wrong.
As the two try to investigate on their own, the bonds become unraveled between the two women. They find themselves on opposing sides. Who can be trusted? Which one has a better take on Jason?
We do not know much about Jason except he has a savior complex. He always wants to save those in need to the point of obsession. We hear about him through the voices of Julia and Sienna in alternating chapters.
Who killed Gavin? Is Jason innocent, and how is he connected?
THICKER THAN WATER is intriguing and mysterious! An emotionally-charged, complex, multi-layered twisty psychological thriller that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning—an exploration of trust, family, friendship, and betrayal.
A character-driven domestic suspense, the author is a pro at writing family dramas and exploring the lines between family members, loyalty, and friendships. If you have not read her books, I highly recommend them!
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: July 11, 2023
My Rating: 5 Stars