From the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell—an “emotionally charged mystery” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author)—comes a thrilling new suspense novel about the insidious nature of family secrets…and their deadly potential.
If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?
Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.
Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.
Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her, Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.
Behind Every Lie left me a little undecided. On the one hand, it did hold my interest, and there were elements I liked, but there were also things I didn't care for. The story is told in dual POV and timelines, switching back and forth between Eva and Kat until the timelines merge into the present and the night Kat died. No, I'm not giving anything away with that tidbit since that's the foundation of the story - mostly. Both timelines were interesting, but Kat's had some lags in the beginning, and both timelines sometimes included a little too much of the mundane. Jumping back and forth between past and present sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. In this case, it was essential to keeping the story's secrets until the author was ready to give them up, or I think that was the reasoning, and it would've worked well had it not been so predictable.
The unreliable narrator is used here, which is something I see more and more lately. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not. In this case, it could've been very effective, but I'll refer back to the aforementioned predictability. When the clues are so in your face, any doubts about innocence or guilt go out the window. The same goes for any red herrings introduced throughout the book. It's a little too easy to figure out the who, what, and why of this one.
So, predictable? Absolutely, very much so. But, that's not necessarily a deal-breaker for me. Very often, I'll devour a book to the end just to see if I'm correct. I did finish this one, but not for that reason. Instead, it was the completely over the top elements that kept me reading. At around the halfway mark, I started to roll my eyes at the many things this family had been through. I mean, how much bad stuff can happen to one family or even one person? They say lightning never strikes the same place twice, and that may be, but Eva didn't need lightning to strike twice. Once was enough, and she had plenty of other bad to deal with. It felt like the author was throwing everything she had at us to see what would stick. Along with the crazy that was Eva's life came a number of twists, but big twists only work if you don't see them coming. I may not have had all the details worked out as far as how the big reveal would go down, but I did have enough that none of it was a surprise, including the very last twist, which was more about tying up that one loose end.
In the end, the characters were interesting. Not necessarily likable, but interesting. For me, the biggest problem was that the author needed to find that happy medium between being suspenseful and thrilling and going completely over the top. The story is a good one - not great, but still worth the read. I do think Christina McDonald shows promise as a domestic suspense/thriller writer, and I'll be interested to see where she goes from here.
❃❃ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Gallery Books