It’s probably a fair assessment to state that the literary market is overrun with thrillers and psychological “noir” novels at this time. It’s not an exaggeration to state here that every month, I see another hot-ticket item hitting Bookstagram and the blogosphere, touted as “the next Gone Girl” boasting an unreliable narrator, chapters told from multiple perspectives, and “WTF-worthy” conclusions.
On one hand, this is undoubtedly a good market for authors who excel at churning out fast-paced thrillers and detective mysteries — readers are eating that up right now. On the other hand, said readers are left with a deluge of mostly-middling works that primarily feel predictable, if not a bit repetitive.
Clare Mackintosh’s latest thriller — Let Me Lie — falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum; not nearly as chilling as Flynn’s works (to be fair, has anyone lived up to her gorgeously calculating Amy Dunne?), but better than most thrillers I’ve picked up lately.
Here’s what it’s all about: A young woman (and new mom) deals with grief on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s suicide. This suicide came just a few months after her father’s suicide, and both are so similar the authorities have chalked up the mother’s as a copy-cat grief-stricken decision. Something doesn’t feel right, though, and the daughter decides to investigate their deaths more closely when an ominous note appears on her doorstep the morning of the anniversary. Characters prove untrustworthy, there’s a retired detective-turned-civilian-investigator thrown in the mix of things, and more than one twist gave me whiplash.
Anna, the main character, is predictably thrown off-kilter when she begins to discover things that aren’t quite as they had originally appeared. Sadly, she’s fleshed into a weak female lead, who at best seems erratically passionate about solving the mystery behind her parents’ suicides, thanks to the dubious involvement of her live-in psychologist boyfriend and her floundering businessman of an uncle. I think Mackintosh wanted readers to come to appreciate Anna’s persistence as strength, but I mostly felt like she was just another stubborn-but-weak heroine determined to play the detective. Either way, she was okay, but not she’s not a character I’ll remember (or think of) in two weeks, and that’s okay.
Overall, most of the elements are fairly recyclable, but I do have to give props to Mackintosh for a few major twists I didn’t see coming. I had a strong idea about what the underlying truth was, but didn’t know how or when readers would get there, and that was the fun of this read.
The book was quick and mostly engaging, and won’t disappoint — as long as you head into it with an eye for what the book is: your run-of-the-mill thriller.
3 stars — & a big thanks to Berkley Pub who sent me an ARC after I won it on Goodreads!