Book Review: “The Test” by Patricia Gussin

Genre:  Suspense

Rating:  3.5 WaterTowers

“The Test” is an ARC sent to me by Patricia Gussin.  It was due in stores October 5, 2009.

Billionaire Paul Parnell, retired CEO of Keystone Pharmaceutical, has died.   The disjointed family members (and others) start calculating how much they will get, who deserves more, and who less. As they gather for the reading of the will the tension rises as Paul’s longtime friend, associate and, now, executor of the will, Carl Schiller, starts the process.

Before we start, lets meet some of the characters (thankfully there is a family tree at the start of the book):

Paul’s brother is Cardinal Sean Parnell, no family.  Cardinal Sean is in his 70’s as was Paul.

Paul’s sons from his first marriage are Frank and Daniel.  Frank Parnell is a U.S. Senator married to Meredith.  Meridith, as it turns out, is the brains behind Franks success and will lead the charge for Franks run for President.  They have one child, Elise, who is about 10.  Dan Parnell left the family many years ago and is now a palm tree farmer in Florida.  He and his wife, Gina are divorced and their kids, Terry and Carissa are in their early twenties.

From Paul’s second marriage there are three daughters:  Rory, Ashley, and Carla.  Rory is married to Dr. Chandler Stevens and they have eight kids.  Ashley is attending Med School, and Carla is a model.  Rory is about 14 years older than Ashley and Carla, and is not Paul’s natural child but, his second wife’s.

Oh yeah…Paul fooled around a bit in his younger days and Monica Monroe is his child from a fling. Monica is a famous singer who has just found out who her biological father was.


As “The Test” opens Ashley is handing in her intern report to the Head of Psychiatry, Dr. Conrad Welton (who looks remarkably like Paul did) so she can leave to attend Paul’s funeral.  Dr. Welton realizes who Ashley is and is determined to become her lover (with $ signs clicking in his head). Carla is heavy into drugs….and getting worse.

Back to the will:

During the reading, Carl lets everyone know that Paul was feeling pretty bad about ignoring the kids as they were growing up and decides to instill proper values in them after his death.  “The Test”.   If they follow the rules, one year from the reading, they get the money.  If not…they don’t.

Not happy with the will they, nonetheless, move on with their lives and try to live so that they can pass “The Test”.

One glitch:  Someone decides that the safest way to get the money is to eliminate the other contenders.

It is a bit difficult to follow all the characters in “The Test”.  The family tree at the front of the book is very helpful, but, still, it is not until the middle of the book that you start to understand who is who, and by that time some of them are dead.  From that point on though, the book cannot be put down as the action intensifies and the killer closes in on his / her prey.

Who dies?  Who lives?  Who gets the money and who does not?  Who is the killer?  Are the Parnells  better or worse as a family after the year?  Are they still a family?

You will have to read “The Test” to find out.  🙂


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