Book Review: Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan

What’s it about?

Sophia’s parents are the most unremarkable couple you’ll ever meet. At least, that’s what she believes until the day she comes home to find them dead in apparent murder-suicide. But Sophia knows that her mother would never kill anyone, let alone herself. With her father too ill to give any answers, she sets out to find out what really happened.

My thoughts

This is the best thriller I’ve read in a long while. It’s well written, the plot is neatly thought-out, and the characterisation is excellent. It did remind me of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, but that is by no means a criticism; it’s enough of its own story for it to be an inspiration rather than a copycat.

Callaghan’s use of scenery is masterful. Each location- London, Cambridge, the house in Suffolk- is distinctly rendered and also skilfully tied to a particular time. The story is partly told through a series of notebooks written by Sophia’s mother, Nina, and I particularly liked how the locations in the notebook change and evolve when Sophia comes to them in the modern day.

This brings me to the characterisation. There are a plethora of people in this book, but they are all clearly different characters, in a way that is often attempted but rarely accomplished in contemporary fiction. Nina’s group of ‘friends’ are all charmingly repulsive, but in their own distinctive ways, which adds to the sense that no one can really be trusted.

It is a thriller, and by definition has its twists and turns. Some are clearly signposted, some are unexpected, but they’re all well crafted and not lazily done. I did guess the biggest twist, but I didn’t really mind. I enjoyed seeing how the plot unfolded, and given the run of just average crime novels I’ve read recently, it was a welcome change.

Would I recommend it?

Oh gosh, yes.

Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan is published by Penguin priced £12.99. The paperback is out on September 20th.

I received an advance copy to review thanks to NetGalley.

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