Heather Gudenkauf has done it again! With This Is How I Lied, she reminds readers why she’s one of the most popular writers of domestic thrillers around. Her latest novel is full of all the twists and turns a mystery lover could want without sacrificing plausibility.
Twenty-five years earlier, the body of fifteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in an abandoned cave system. It was obvious she’d met with foul play, but the police were unable to close the case. Pretty much everyone in town had an opinion about the events leading up to Eve’s death, but no one really knows what happened that cold December night. Or do they?
When new evidence surfaces in the summer of 2020, police detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe isn’t sure how to feel. Eve was her childhood best friend, and Maggie has never forgotten the horror of being the one to discover Eve’s battered body all those years ago. Plus, Maggie has been keeping a dark and dangerous secret for years, and she’s terrified someone will discover what’s she’s tried so hard to find. And yet she longs for closure and so, against her better judgement, she agrees to begin looking into Eve’s case.
The re-opening of the Knox case plunges the small Iowa town into complete chaos. Contrary to what Maggie would expect, no one seems the least bit pleased that the investigation is active once again, and no matter how hard she tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself thwarted at every turn, making her think she’s not the only one in town with something to hide. But Maggie is determined to bring Eve’s killer to justice, no matter what it costs her.
The novel’s structure is a bit confusing, alternating as it does between Maggie’s present-day investigation and the days leading up to Eve’s death. We see things from both Maggie’s and Eve’s perspectives, and we are also introduced to Eve’s troubled younger sister Nola, who seems to be conducting an investigation of her own that may or may not conflict with Maggie’s. It took me a little while to settle into the slightly jumbled narrative, but once I reached the halfway point, things suddenly began to make sense. So, if you’re put off by what feels like a lot of disjointed information, hang in there. Ms. Gudenkauf won’t let you down!
Maggie is exactly the kind of complicated heroine I’ve come to love. She’s married and expecting her first child, and to those around her, she seems to have it all, but she has hidden depths that make her a lot more interesting than I expected when I first encountered her on the page. She doesn’t always do the right thing, and I sometimes wondered if a line existed she wouldn’t cross in her attempts to learn the truth about Eve’s death, yet I found myself cheering her on almost in spite of myself. That’s how invested I was in her quest for justice.
Parts of the story, especially those chapters told from Nola’s point of view, were difficult to read. It’s clear from the beginning Nola has some deeply-rooted emotional problems, and as the story progresses, those issues come to a head. Nola’s thoughts aren’t always pleasant, and some of them are downright disturbing, so bear this in mind if you’re thinking of giving This Is How I Lied a try.
There are some references to domestic violence and sexual assault sprinkled throughout the story. Nothing is described in great detail, but these encounters are important to the eventual outcome of Maggie’s investigation. I wasn’t personally distressed by the presence of these portrayals, but I know not everyone chooses to read books involving abuse.
If you love fast-paced, intense thrillers, This Is How I Lied is a book you won’t want to miss. It kept me glued to my iPad all day, eager to discover what secrets the various characters were hiding. Heather Gudenkauf knows how to tell a suspenseful story, so hold on tight because the ride gets pretty wild.
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