Little Black Lies

little black liesPublished: 2015
Author: Sharon Bolton

Dark, gripping, chilling – brilliant


Can you imagine taking the life of another person? Would you have the ability to deliberately kill someone? That’s the question that Catrin Quinn, one of the three main characters of Sharon Bolton’s Little Black Lies, asks herself on the very first page. Can she kill her former best friend, Rachel, the woman responsible for the death of her two sons three years previously?

This stand-alone novel from the author of the Lacey Flint series is a dark, brooding and thoroughly captivating tale set in the Falkland Islands a decade and a half after the conflict. Almost three years have passed since the accident which claimed the lives of Catrin’s sons and her grief has led her to the decision to kill Rachel but, as the anniversary approaches, Catrin’s plans are disrupted by the disappearance of a child and the beaching of almost two hundred whales. The story is told in turn by Catrin, Rachel, and former soldier Callum, who is still suffering the devastating effects of the 1982 conflict.

I was enthralled from the very first paragraph. Bolton’s writing is superb and her storytelling engrossing. Each of the three main characters is believable and complex with the reader’s sympathies swapping between characters as each gives their take on the events unfolding before them. Catrin, Rachel and Callum are all fully rounded and complex characters and there is no easy “good guy/bad guy” narrative. People make mistakes, people do things that are hard to support but we still root for as happy an ending as is possible.

The star of the story isn’t any of the characters, or even the tense story of missing children, it’s the dark and oppressive setting itself. People in Britain feel a real connection to the Falkland Islands, but if we’re honest we don’t really know very much about them. Bolton’s descriptions of the territory are hugely evocative and take into the heart a community which is both close-knit and deeply fragile. Old friends are quick to turn on those they believe have committed crimes and the peace which has existed since the end of the war is fragile and can be ripped apart at any time. People are paranoid and will do anything to make themselves feel secure, even at the expense of their friends and family.

As a diver and lover of all things underwater I loved the brief forays into the sea and Catrin’s focus on marine life. If the Falklands seems a completely different world to those of us in the UK then the fabulous descriptions of whale song only add to that alien feeling.

I’m not sure I can do Little Black Lies justice, it’s a book that I want everyone to read so that we can talk about how great it is. It’s a brilliant and gripping read and a few days on from reading it, it’s still all I can think about.

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