Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Review: One More Lie

By Jami Deise

When their young children lie, most parents are horrified, wondering where they’ve gone wrong and whether their children are on the road to psychopathy for sneaking a cookie. But lying is a normal behavior, a sign that children are beginning to understand actions have consequences. Catching their child in a lie can lead to a teaching opportunity and a chance for parents to form closer bonds with their kids. Of course, that assumes a normal child and a relatively harmless lie.

In British author Amy Lloyd’s latest novel, One More Lie, Charlotte’s lies are anything but harmless. Released from prison, where she’d been since the age of ten, Charlotte has to lie in order to fit into her new life, with a new job and a room at a halfway house. But with mandated therapy, an ankle bracelet, and a parole officer, that’s difficult. Plus the British press is spreading the word that the two notorious child killers have been freed, with new names and new lives. And even though Charlotte knows she’s not supposed to talk to Sean – her literal partner in crime – when he reaches out, she can’t help herself. After all, he’s the only one who knows the truth. And she still can’t remember all the details about how Luke died. Only that she lied about it.

One More Lie goes back and forth in time, and while it’s usually in Charlotte’s point of view, later in the book Sean’s point of view comes into play as well. Charlotte already had a tragic childhood even before Luke’s death, being raised by an aunt and uncle after her father killed her mother and burned down their house. Ostracized at school – whether due to poverty or her background is never made clear – Sean is her only friend, a redhaired boy a year older who lives with his father in a filthy apartment above a video store. In present day, Charlotte comes across as naïve and easily victimized – an easy target for the wrong type of person. And unfortunately, there are many of those wrong types in her life. So vulnerable and passive, it’s impossible to believe that she was involved in a child’s death.

One More Lie reminded me strongly of Baltimore author Laura Lippman’s 2009 novel Every Secret Thing (later a movie), which also revolved around young adults who were let out of prison after having killed as children. Lippman, however, does a better job of keeping the momentum going in the present-day timeline as strongly as events build in the past. Lloyd’s climax isn’t quite a compelling as Lippman's, perhaps because the central question of the former's novel deals with whether Charlotte will ever remember the details of Luke’s death.

Personally, I was intrigued by a “nature versus nurture” question, and disappointed that Lloyd didn’t follow that thread more deliberately. She never questions whether Charlotte’s paternity doomed her to violence; it seems the British press did not link her father’s actions to hers, either. The thread she does pursue raises a juicy question, though: How many lies are too many?

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

Also by Amy Lloyd:

No comments: