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‘The Family Remains’ Ending, Explained: Who Killed Justin And Michael? What Happens To Phineas Thomsen?

Lisa Jewell’s latest novel, “The Family Remains,” is a very confusing read in the sense that it involves a lot of characters, and the timeline constantly shifts from past to present. The narrative voice also changes with each chapter, with different characters voicing their perceptions and experiences and narrating the ongoing events in their lives. It begins with a prologue in which DI Owusu appears to be the main character, but as the narrative progresses, we realize there is no one protagonist but several. In the case of the antagonist, the situation becomes much more than complex. By the time you finish reading the novel, you still won’t be able to figure out whether there is any antagonist at all, if there is, whether there are one or several antagonists at the same time and whether he or she is a pure villain or mainly a person or people caught up in the course of fate and forced to do things they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

“The Family Remains” tells the tale of the characters who were present in The Family Upstairs as well, narrating their lives in the present as they are trying to get ahead in their lives and move on, leaving the trauma of their past behind. Henry and Lucy Lamb have finally inherited shares of their mansion with the help of Libby, and the three sold their shares, getting quite a lot of money in return. Lucy finally bought a house of her own and intends to move as soon as possible with her kids, Marco and Stella, and her dog, Fitz.

Henry is not at ease because of the invasion of his personal space brought about by Lucy, her kids, and the dog. He is looking forward to them moving out of his apartment as well, having lived alone most of his life. But he knows how difficult things have been for Lucy over the years back in France, having to play the violin in the streets to feed her kids and herself. Two new characters who weren’t there in the prequel but are introduced here as major characters are Rachel Gold and DI Owusu. Rachel Gold is a talented jewelry designer trying to carve out her own space and make a living. She is 33 and doesn’t intend to get married right now, not unless she has met the right person, and she doesn’t see herself meeting the right man anytime soon. But then a man named Michael Rimmer casually strides into her life, and what she had once considered a one-night thing soon turns into a marriage—that too in a matter of three months.

Michael Rimmer is a wealthy businessman and owns quite a few properties both in London and France. Rachel doubts taking a decision so fast but doesn’t ponder much over it, thinking that Michael is, after all, crazy about her. She knew that there was some Lucy to whom Michael was married previously but didn’t know much about the details. Michael’s Lucy is Lucy Lamb, Henry’s sister, who had lived in France for several years, and Marco is Lucy and Michael’s son. Lucy had to leave Michael because of the physical violence. Also, Michael actually worked as a middleman in the illegal drug business, which helped him earn a lot of money. All of this was not known to Rachel, and she saw the dark side of Michael on their honeymoon itself when suddenly, for very petty reasons, he refused to touch her any longer and later turned things around when confronted. In a matter of months, Rachel saw Michael turning into someone whom she had not known before marriage, and one night he ended up raping her while she was sleeping, making her walk out of the apartment at the first chance that she got.

DI Owusu, on the other hand, was born and brought up in Ghana and is trying to unravel the mysterious murder mystery that happened in the Lamb mansion at 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. It was a bag full of bones that made him open the closed file on this case, which had happened back in 1995. Further forensic investigation revealed the bones belonged to someone named Birdie, and she lived with the Lambs in their mansion back then. Her boyfriend Justin Redding lived with her too but cannot be found. The bodies which were found in the house belonged to the couple Lambs and another unidentified man named DT. The other children of the house had also gone missing, apart from baby Libby, who was found upstairs. All of these threads made Owusu contact Libby, thinking that she would be able to help her, but things got even more messed up than they were before.

‘The Family Remains’ Ending Explained – Who kills Justin Redding And Michael Rimmer?

Reports on Birdie’s death went viral, and just as DI Owusu had expected, a woman from Wales contacted him, saying that her gardener somewhat resembled Justin. After meeting him, things get much clearer. Justin tells him how the children were tortured in that house and how Henry was always trying to make the adults in the house understand what they were actually doing, but how it would fail every time. Owusu had this feeling that Justin was hiding something from him when he asked him about the deadly nightshade and who might have grown it in the garden in his absence to poison the adults. He figured that he was trying to protect someone, but he didn’t know who.

Sometime later, he receives a text from Cath Manwaring saying that something terrible has happened to Justin and he should come immediately. By that time, Interpol had already gotten hold of Henry and Lucy, and Owusu had interviewed them over a video call, where he got to know how Lucy was raped by David and how Birdie had actually groomed her for it. On interviewing Henry, he seemed too adamant to give in to the accusations and instead turned the entire thing around, saying that there was another gate at the back through which someone might have gotten in without any keys. This further created a lot of confusion, but Henry and Lucy were told to come back to London and remain there until the investigation was over.

Justin’s body was found, and he had apparently taken his own life and left a letter saying that no one was to blame for what happened to him. He did this because he felt guilty for what had happened and because he had actually gone back to meet the kids and met Henry. Birdie saw the entire thing, and a tussle took place; he hit her in the head, and once they found out that she had died, they kept her hidden on the terrace. When Henry had gone back to the house after getting possession of it last year, he had put her bones in a bag and thrown them in the Thames to save Justin.

When Owusu tells this to Henry, he breaks down, but he is acting most of the time, for it was he who had actually killed Birdie and had grown nightshade in the garden after Justin had left and poisoned the adults as well with it. It came somewhat as a shock to him that Justin would write a letter and kill himself to save his back. He pretended in front of Owusu that whatever Justin had written was true and tried to make himself believe them too, so that the fiction no longer seemed like fiction anymore. For a while, it seemed to him that the detective did not believe in any of this and he would be caught soon, but surprisingly Owusu leaves without bothering him any further.

On the other hand, it was clear that Henry had met Phin in Chicago but was lying to everyone who was asking him about it, and even though it seemed like he had gone there to hurt him and has probably hurt him all the more reason for lying about it, it turns out that Phin is okay and he wasn’t ready to meet Lucy and Libby, and he turns up later on the day Lucy gets possession of her house. Phin comes to visit both of them, and it couldn’t have happened without Henry, who had actually convinced him to come back and meet them. It is revealed later that Lucy had killed Michael Rimmer because he had tried to rape her. She confessed to Rachel later, saying how scared she had been of the police finding out and tracking her down. But Rachel then tells her that the case is closed and that she had done the right thing because he was, after all, a criminal, and if Lucy hadn’t murdered him, then she would have.

See more: ‘The Family Remains’ Book Review: Lisa Jewell Proves Her Skill As A Brilliant Crime Novelist Yet Again 

Anantaa Ghosh
Anantaa Ghosh
Anantaa has completed her graduation and post-graduation in English literature. She works as a guest lecturer and is an avid and enthusiastic reader. She is deeply passionate about rivers and wants to pursue her research on water narratives.


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