Saturday, 17 June 2017

Review: The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

This book felt as though it had been written just for me! It has all the ingredients I love in a story - an old murder, family secrets, flawed characters - there is even a spooky old house located on a private island. Perfect!

Forty years ago, Meg Ashley's mother Frances became an overnight sensation when she wrote a cult horror novel called Kitten. (Think female Stephen King and the success of 'Carrie'). Since then, Frances Ashley has become an extremely wealthy, much-loved author. Unfortunately, Frances is also a complete megalomaniac and a terrible mother. A clue to their relationship is that whenever Frances phones Meg, a picture of Ursula from The Little Mermaid pops up on Meg's screen!

The person Meg is closest to is Edgar, her mother's literary agent, who has become almost like a father to her. So when Edgar dies, and her mother simply jets off to marry yet another in a long list of husbands without telling her, it is the final straw. Offered a huge sum of money to write a tell-all account of growing up with Frances Ashley as her mother - and the true-life murder that inspired Kitten, Meg accepts, packing her bags and heading off to the private island of Bonny (Georgia, USA), intending to solve the decades-old murder. Will her plan go horribly wrong? You bet!

One of the things I liked best about this story is that it is clear Meg is being manipulated - you want to shout at the book, 'No, don't do it!' - but who is doing the manipulating? Frances's bitter assistant, who arranges Meg's book deal? Doro Kitchens, the woman Frances based the character of Kitten on all those years ago? The handsome Koa, Doro's employee, who has his own reasons for being on the island? Or even Frances herself?

Another thing I loved about the story was that I couldn't work out who the murderer was, not even at the very end! And there was a final twist I didn't see coming.

It's hard to categorise the genre - another thing I liked about the book. Part psychological suspense, part classic romantic suspense, part gothic. There is a murder mystery and a hint of the paranormal - and the end seemed to come straight out of an 80s scream queen movie. It reminded me of Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson, with a bit of Stephen King, but although it gets a little bit bloody towards the end (and slightly over the top - just hold on and enjoy the ride!), it is not really gruesome.

Anyway, I loved it. It's one of my favourite reads this year and I've already downloaded the author's earlier book, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls.

Thank you to Emily Carpenter, Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review. 

And thanks to Chelsea Humphrey at The Suspense is Killing Me - it was her fabulous review which made me desperate to read this book!

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