Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Review: The Lies We Told

By Jami Deise

There’s something especially chilling about the evil kid genre. Whether she’s featured in a movie or a book, The Bad Seed (both the original and the new Lifetime version) is born this way, which makes her incorrigible, inexplicable, and destined for horrible things. A few months ago, Atlantic magazine even featured an article about treating child psychopaths, implying that it’s not an uncommon concern.

In British author Camilla Way’s latest thriller, The Lies We Told, Beth knows there’s something very wrong with her daughter Hannah. In Cambridgeshire in 1986, she tries to make her husband Doug see that Hannah’s pranks are more than mere childish games.

In London in 2017, Clara’s boyfriend Luke has disappeared… and as the days pass, it’s clear that this is no lad’s adventure he’s fallen into. As Hannah grows up and Beth begins to fear her more and more, Clara’s timeline takes more time: The days pass, the investigation grows deeper, and Clara begins to wonder whether she knew her boyfriend at all. While the two separate mysteries develop, the question in the reader’s mind—how will these two storylines converge?—takes a while to answer, but when Way does answer the question, the revelation is a satisfying, if predictable one.

The writing in this thriller is strong, and the characters are very well-developed. Beth and Clara are both third-person point-of-view protagonists, and they are such different women that the reader never gets too comfortable in a single storyline. Way pulls no punches with her plot points, and there’s never a feeling of safety in the prose.

It doesn’t require a spoiler alert to say that Hannah is the psychopath in question, and her deficits drive the story. But most criminals are not psychopaths, and readers should not be lulled into a false sense of security because Way points a finger so quickly in the narrative.

The Lies We Told starts with a bang and gets better and better with each chapter. Although this is Way’s fourth book, it’s the first one I’ve read, and I’ll be going over her backlist to catch the ones I’ve missed.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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