Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald is a masterfully written domestic mystery thriller about dark family secrets and the resulting consequences of a lifetime of lies and deception. I was completely blown away by the author’s brilliant writing style and her amazing talent in crafting such an intriguing and clever story. The haunting prologue immediately pulled me in from the very beginning. Kat’s murder and the detailed plot definitely held my attention. Eva’s search for the truth behind the lies was entirely captivating and had me questioning everyone’s motives up until the very end. This thriller is a fast paced read that is filled with lots of tension, twists and turns, and a shocking and revealing conclusion that makes this book impossible to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this intense, emotionally charged and utterly amazing thriller!
Behind Every Lie is a standalone book that takes place in Seattle/Whidbey Island where Eva currently lives and London where Kat used to live. The chapters are written with the alternating points of view of the two main characters Eva Hansen and her mother Kat. Chapters also alternate between Eva in the present and Kat beginning 25 years in the past. Each chapter provides new clues and still more unanswered questions leaving you in expectation of what will happen next. The alternating points of view helped me understand each character and really feel for them. I particularly enjoyed the anticipation that came with this writing style. As the story progresses and the mystery comes to a climax the different timelines seamlessly converge and lead to the night of Kat’s murder revealing shocking secrets of abuse, rape, manipulation, revenge and decades of lies.
The story begins with a celebratory lunch where Eva, her mother Kat, brother Andrew and Aunt Lily all gathered together. It’s clear that Eva feels uncomfortable and insecure but they’re all there to celebrate Kat’s award for saving a little girl’s life. Next, Eva wakes up in a hospital after being struck by lightning to discover that her mother was murdered the night of their gathering. Eva can’t remember what happened or why she was found outside of her mother’s house. Her memory is fuzzy with only small vague hints of that night. The detective investigating the murder is clearly suspicious of her lack of memory. Her fiancée, Liam, is questioning her every move and is suspicious. When Eva finds out that she’s a suspect in her mother’s murder, she determined to find out the truth and clear her name. A note found in her mother’s office has Eva questioning everything about her past and leads her to London where she begins to unravel the truth behind her mother’s closely guarded secrets. Eva soon realizes that there’s so much she didn’t know about Kat. She discovers that most of her life is a lie but self doubt and a sketchy memory of the past has her wondering if she’s the one responsible for her mother’s murder. As she gets closer to finding out the truth she begins to suspect that she too is in danger. When she discovers the truth will it forever change her relationship with her fiancée Liam? Will she be forgiven for her own past decisions? Will the truth destroy her relationship with her childhood friend Jacob?
Kat's story takes you back 25 years when she lived in London with Eva. Kat is a socially awkward person who often deals with others with hard scientific facts and cold truths. She’s often detached, unemotional and cold. Kat shares a unique friendship with Rose and her daughter Laura. When tragedy strikes, Kat and Rose are forced to make decisions that will alter their lives forever. When Kat reflects on her choices, she wishes she was a better, more loving mother to Eva, in the end questioning her decisions and her deception. Did she lie only to keep them safe? Did the reasons and justifications for the choices that were made begin to blur over time? Did the lies ultimately keep them safe?
I absolutely enjoyed reading this story! The author’s writing style and masterfully crafted plot were absolutely brilliant and completely captivating. The author easily pulls you in and makes you feel like part of the story. I loved the smooth transitions between chapters, each one adding a detail that’s important to the story. The characters were all really well developed and complex, each hiding their own secrets. I connected with the characters, related to each of their circumstances and struggled with their guilt and lies. I was rooting for Eva as she finally was able to accept the past, forgive her loved ones and her own choices, and finally realize “In a world of bad breaks-broken hearts, broken promises, broken dreams-I’d managed to create the most beautiful future out of my very broken body.” I thoroughly enjoyed the slow uncovering of the truth, the twist and turns of the story, and how the lies, deceptions and betrayals all came together for a somewhat shocking and surprising ending.
There were so many layers to this thriller. The author’s use of rich settings, Eva’s lightning burns and the elements of lightning, thunder, rain and darkness to intensify the intrigue and the feeling of impending doom. Having the thunder and lightning finally reveal all of Eva’s memories was completely enthralling as she uncovers not only the truth behind Kat’s murder but the truth of who she is, her past attack and the reality of her relationship with Liam. So many answers all coming at once made the climax thrilling and surprising. I also enjoyed the author’s use of art, specifically kintsugi, to explain how something broken can still be functional and beautiful. “We can be strong and brave and broken and whole all at the same time.” This was also a wonderful story about mother and daughter relationships as well as the rivalry between siblings. In the end all of the characters made hard choices that required them to live with the consequences. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves complex family dynamics, murder mysteries/thrillers, a completely amazing multi-layered story and a shocking ending! This is the first book I’ve read by Christina McDonald and I quickly devoured it! I look forward to reading more of her books. In my humble opinion, Behind Every Lie was simply outstanding!
I received an advanced reader’s copy from Gallery Books and the author through BookishFirst in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.