Let me lie by Clare Mackintosh
Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9780751564877
(Age: Adult - Older adolescent) Themes: Mystery and suspense. Suicide. Grief. The dedication at the start of the narrative positions us perfectly to be led into a complex story of love, loyalty and betrayal, with Clare Mackintosh's choice of Benjamin Franklin's wise words to precede the narrative: "Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead". Indeed the use of "lie" in the title of the book itself is enigmatic, as we begin to realize what has happened.
Single mother, Anna, has an eight-week old child, Ella, with her partner, Mark, the psychologist she had been seeing since the disastrous disappearance of her parents, in what appears to have been separate suicides. Prior to the opening of the narrative, we learn, Anna's parents appeared to have run a successful car sales business for many years, apparently making money and in a successful personal relationship. However, the manner of their deaths, apparently suicide, and the things that Anna begins to discover suggest that all was indeed not well. This is where Murray, the retired policeman who is fascinated by the mystery, decides to investigate privately, both to help Anna, who is dismayed, afraid and angry, and to answer the questions that puzzle him.
Apart from the obvious lack of care of their daughter, having been somewhat venomous and not particularly loving parents, Anna had thought her life to be predictable and normal. She discovers, gradually, that all had not been well, that her parents had cared little for her and for each other, and she has been devastated by the lies that had filled her life and the dreadful events that appear to have occurred.
This book is imbued with a sense of decency, in how we should treat one another, how we should respond to tragedy, how indeed we should live in today's complex and often difficult world by caring for, and recognizing, the humanity and goodness of others. Tense, disturbing and at times shocking, this new novel tells a good story and leaves us understanding the terrible nature of some people, and of the hidden secrets and venom of some people's lives. Mackintosh elicits strong emotions in the reader as we begin to understand what others find the strength to do, not only to survive, but to approach life with love, hope, loyalty and respect so that they, and we, can live justly, if we are lucky, in this sometimes very daunting and dark world.
This book is suitable for adults and older adolescents, as it does deal with admirable and honourable attributes of humanity, tainted by the presence of betrayal, cruelty and violence.