Desert Isle Keeper
One More Lie
One More Lie is the second novel of psychological suspense from British author Amy Lloyd. Her 2018 début, The Innocent Wife, was super dark and disturbing, so I was eager to see what her second novel would be like, and I’m happy to tell you that it ended up being even better than last year’s release.
Our heroine has lived most of her life in a secure institution for those with severe mental illnesses. When she was ten, she and her best friend Sean were convicted of killing a disabled classmate, and her time on the outside has been extremely limited until now. When the story opens, she has just been released from the institution, given a new identity, and sent to a city far from where the crime was committed. Now called Charlotte, she wants nothing more than a fresh start, something that feels almost impossible due to her emotional immaturity and lack of social awareness.
The one constant in Charlotte’s life is her psychiatrist. She’s been seeing Dr. Evelyn Isherwood since shortly after she was convicted of murder, and Charlotte believes no one in the world knows her better or loves her more than Dr. Isherwood does, and can’t imagine how she’ll survive on the outside without her doctor’s help. Fortunately, this is something she hasn’t had to face since Dr. Isherwood has moved to a nearby town in order to keep seeing Charlotte as a patient. I’m not sure how ethical this is, but the author makes it work quite well here.
So Charlotte is trying hard to make a new life for herself. She’s working in a supermarket, seeing Dr. Isherwood a couple of times a week, and obeying the conditions of her parole, but things just don’t seem to be going well. She can’t seem to relate to her colleagues, and life in a halfway house is challenging. Plus, thoughts of Sean and the crime they committed are never far from Charlotte’s mind, making it difficult for her to focus on her future.
A part of Charlotte longs to reconnect with Sean, who she hasn’t seen since before her court trial, but another part of her is afraid of what would happen if Sean were to find out where she is living. The only other time she spent time away from the institution, he managed to track her down, and she was forced to return to in-patient treatment as a result. The reader isn’t sure how Charlotte actually feels about Sean since her thoughts and feelings about him appear to be quite jumbled, but, as you might expect, he eventually finds out where she is, causing Charlotte to begin a downward spiral that might cost her her sanity.
One More Lie is a deeply disturbing story with a main character readers are likely to have a hard time warming up to. It’s clear from the very beginning that Charlotte is an extremely troubled young woman. She claims not to have a clear memory of the murder she’s accused of committing, but I wasn’t sure she was telling the truth about that, and in fact, she experiences quite a few vivid flashbacks which made me wonder if she actually remembered more than she was admitting. Even so, I found Charlotte’s story to be quite riveting. I was eager to learn the truth about the murder, and even more anxious to figure out what kind of relationship she and Sean actually had.
Most of the story is told from Charlotte’s point of view. We move back and forth in time, tracking her present progress as well as learning about the events both leading up to and following the murder. The parts of the novel that focus on Charlotte’s childhood are told in a nonlinear fashion, moving randomly over a four year period. This makes the timeline of events a little confusing, but everything eventually becomes clear, so stick with it if you can.
There are a few chapters told from Sean’s perspective, but he’s definitely not the main focus of the novel. I felt like I knew more about him through Charlotte’s perceptions than from the bits and pieces we learn through his own lens. He’s not at all a likable character, but then I didn’t expect him to be. His life was forever changed by the crime he and Charlotte committed, and although he seems to be a bit more functional than Charlotte, things are definitely not easy for him.
This is one of those books that grabs you and refuses to let you go until you reach the end. Parts of the narrative feel a bit slow, but, even when it feels like nothing much is happening, the tension is building to a fever pitch. Then, before you know it, things are happening at lightning speed, and you’ll be flying through the story. Due to the intense nature of the subject matter, this is not an easy read, but it’s definitely an addictive one, and I urge anyone who loves fast-paced thrillers with chilling twists to pick up One More Lie as soon as possible.