Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: 'Little Black Lies' by Sharon Bolton

Catrin Quinn has been an emotional wreck for the past three years, when a grievous loss left her bereft, bitter, and enraged. She has been plotting her revenge ever since. Sharon Bolton's "Little Black Lies" takes place in the Falkland Islands, located in the South Atlantic approximately three hundred miles off the coast of South America. This remote archipelago, once fought over by soldiers from Great Britain and Argentina, is the perfect setting for a sinister mystery.

The year is 1994. We learn that two youngsters inexplicably vanished from the Falklands and were never found. Considering the perilous terrain, an accident could have taken one or even two children's lives, but when a third boy disappears, the possibility arises that there is a killer on the loose. Adding to the atmosphere of unease is the fact that some of the islanders nurse grudges, keep secrets from one another, and are suspicious of outsiders. Three characters offer alternate versions of the novel's key events. Catrin Quinn is high-strung, aggressive, and too blunt for her own good. Callum Murray, Catrin's former lover, is a Scotsman who fought in the Falklands War and suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. Finally, we hear from Rachel Grimwood, once Catrin's closest friend, and now her most hated enemy.

Bolton describes the Falkland Islands in glorious detail. We marvel at her depiction of dazzling, star-filled skies; rocky outcroppings; gulls wheeling over the wild surf; playful penguins; and whales singing their unearthly melodies. On the other hand, too many contrived developments weaken the story. We are faced with three guilt-ridden individuals, all of whom appear bent on self-destruction; inept detectives bungling a high-profile investigation; and enough red herrings to fill several works by Agatha Christie. The author concludes with a disturbing twist that left me scratching my head in disbelief. Its flaws notwithstanding, "Little Black Lies" is a readable work of psychological suspense that earns four stars, thanks to the author's magnificent portrayal of the Falkland Islands' exotic beauty and her chilling exploration of her character's deeply unsettled minds.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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