Between the Lies
What if you could remember nothing – absolutely nothing – about your life? And what if the people who were caring for you – who called themselves your family – were complete strangers to you? This is the premise of Between the Lies, a domestic thriller which examines the dark corners of human relationships.
A near fatal accident has left Chloe Daniels with severe memory problems. She does not recognize her parents, her sister, the palatial family home they have brought her to, nor does she have any memories of her life. She is functional – she knows what a television is, how to use a phone – but she doesn’t know what her favorite show is or have any idea who she would call if she picked her phone up.
She is also frightened. Something feels off about what is happening around her. Her mother and sister behave strangely and avoid her as much as possible. They can’t meet her eyes. Her father, a renowned psychiatrist, is creepy. She feels deeply uncomfortable with the fact that he insists on handling her recovery himself; she is confident it is unethical, that what is happening not only crosses the lines of professionalism but safety. Alone one afternoon, she tries to leave, but her weak body is barely capable of getting her down the driveway, and the gate at the end of the drive has a lock for which she does not have the code. She returns to the house, convinced she is more prisoner than patient. Chloe is nothing if not stubborn however, and she has no intention of staying locked up forever. The truth of who she was is somewhere beyond that house – and she intends to find out what it is.
Most amnesia stories require a big dollop of suspension of disbelief because they ignore how the mind typically works and the physical and psychological responses that happen when it isn’t working properly. This tale is no different: it’s easy to spot some medical inconsistencies and to be distracted by some of the questions you have about why the memory loss works the way it does. That kept this book from being a DIK, but it didn’t keep it from being a darn good read. Once you let go and accept the story on its own terms, you find yourself completely swept up in the nightmare that is Chloe’s present existence.
An existence of which I can not say much because that is all part of the mystery. I will say that I liked Chloe a lot. She’s brave, strong and resolute in just the right amounts. She is also very vulnerable, very human, and very capable of making poor choices, but as the secrets of her past life become clear, it is easy to understand and forgive her mistakes. She fits perfectly into this kind of gothic tale in the way a flawless heroine never could.
I’m a big fan of gothics and I loved that aspect of this story. The author nails the mystery and fear aspect by making our damsel in distress a near prisoner in the family home. A home, by the way, that is very gloomy and decaying. Throw in the nightmares, the ‘supernatural’ event of Chloe’s lost memory, the villain(s), the emotional distress, the anti-hero and you have the perfect mix of gothic elements. The author does a fantastic job of combining those classic features of this ages-old genre into a modern-day tale of terror. I had never really considered a gothic as a possible partner for psychological thrillers but there is not doubt that the fusion works brilliantly here.
In this tale however our damsel in distress mostly rescues herself. She has some help along the way but definitely does all the heavy lifting. That was a positive in the book for me; nothing drives me crazier than a person with a problem who doesn’t even try to solve said problem.
This is a thriller, so there are scary elements, nasty people and some tragic backstory. I think for modern day readers, with our twenty-four-hour news cycle delivering horrific tragedies to our doorstep every hour, this is pretty tame stuff. Those looking for a cozy mystery should definitely look elsewhere, though.
Between the Lies is a good story bound to please fans of thrillers or gothics. If you are a fan of both, it’s a must read.