A Flaw in the Design

by Nathan Oates

When Gil’s sister and her husband are killed in a horrible car accident, he and his wife, Molly, are forced to take in their seventeen-year-old son, Matthew. Matthew is still a minor and Gil and Molly are less than thrilled about bringing him into their home. Unfortunately, when Matthew was an infant Gil and Molly agreed to be his guardians if anything ever happened to Sharon and her husband. When Matthew was eleven there was a disturbing event with Gil and Molly’s daughter that almost led to a tragedy. Sharon refused to see any problem with her son and it caused a serious rift with his sister. Sharon’s husband was very wealthy and with Matthew comes a huge monthly income for his care. Gil and Molly are worried because they think Matthew is dangerous but when he arrives in their small Vermont town from New York City, he is the perfect guest. He helps the girls with their homework, brings Molly presents and is on his best behavior. Everyone in the family is won over by Matthew except Gil who sees flashes of the sociopath that he believes Matthew to be. When the police contact him about the accident and keep inquiring about Matthew, Gil begins to think that Matthew might have had something to do with their deaths but Molly is sure that Matthew’s lack of emotion about losing his parents is his coping mechanism. Gil believes otherwise.

Gil is a writer and a professor at a small local university. Molly is an artist so their finances are stretched to the limit. Gil has to admit that the money they receive each month is beneficial because they are able to pay off some of their debts so they can start saving for college for their two girls. Gil thinks that he must be overreacting to Matthew because no one else in the family believes that Michael is dangerous. However, as the weeks go by, Gil begins seeing glimpses of the real Matthew and he is terrified for his family.

Many years before Gil had a nervous breakdown and as he becomes more obsessed with trying to show that Matthew is dangerous Molly becomes worried that he is having another episode but Gil is onto Matthew and Matthew knows it. Was he responsible for the death of his parents ? Is he as dangerous as Gil believes him to be or is Matthew just toying with him? Soon their cat and mouse game comes to a final confrontation that leads to an unexpected ending.

I couldn’t put this book down! I’m not sure what I think of the ending and I’m wondering if a sequel might be coming. If you like psychological mysteries with some twists you won’t see coming, be sure to pick up A Flaw in the Design when is is published on March 21, 2023.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the advanced reading copy.

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