Now haven’t I been telling you for such a long time what a great author Barbara Copperthwaite is?! I’m so pleased that those lovely people at Bookouture agree with me, and I’m delighted to join the blog tour today for The Darkest Lies. Published on 12th May, and available for kindle and in paperback, it’s a really magnificent thriller – and if it’s the massive bestseller it deserves to be, I doubt anyone could be more thrilled than me (ok, so maybe Barbara herself too…!). Here’s the story:
A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.
Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.
Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?
As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…
A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.
When I reviewed Flowers For The Dead (you’ll find that review here), I said that Barbara “makes the chilling and dark, the absurd and horrific into easy reading”. When I finally caught up with Invisible, I knew I’d been lucky enough to find an author capable of something wonderful – I called it “all-consuming” and “totally gripping” in my review, and felt every word. I was lucky enough to be involved with The Darkest Lies from the early days when Barbara asked me to be one of her beta-readers, but it was an absolute pleasure to read this wonderful book for a third time, and to see how it’s been honed and polished into something very special indeed. This book totally blew me away the first time I read it, and familiarity hasn’t lessened its impact one bit – another reading just gave me another chance to look more closely at the book’s structure and characters, and to admire the writing skills of an author who never fails to produce a book that has me unable to set it aside until the final page.
This book has the most amazing prologue – a vivid, haunting image, beautifully written – and its relevance to the story that follows only becomes clear at the book’s close, when the prologue is chillingly repeated, and you’re finally able to breath properly again.
The descriptions of the marshes in this book – the vistas, the hidden dangers, the mud, the racing tide – are just superb, incredibly atmospheric, a constant brooding presence. I also loved Fenmere itself… I have a bit of a “thing” about a book having a clear sense of place, and the village and its community are vividly drawn.
The characterisation is wonderful, the anguish of both Jacob and Mel, the way their grief impacts on their marriage incredibly well done – there’s one image of Jacob crying in Beth’s bedroom (“tendrils of sorrow… trickling down the stairs”…) that stayed with me from first reading with the rawness of its emotion. These people are totally real – Melanie all over the place with her dogged determination to uncover the truth, Joseph struggling to cope with his grief and his wife’s single mindedness. The glimpses of the past, the little things, bring the family to life – and there are scenes where the grief becomes too much to bear that will continue to haunt me.
The structure of the narrative is unusual, but I think it really works. Melanie’s voice throughout is in the second person, talking to Beth: but that’s punctuated with glimpses of Beth herself, in the third person. And then there’s that sinister third voice – so brilliantly done. There’s a choppiness about the chapter structure too that works incredibly well, heightening the suspense, keeping the pages turning.
At different points in the story I had everyone in the frame for Beth’s attack… there are so many possibilities (call them red herrings if you will), but I felt I wanted to help Melanie, see if I’d spotted something that she might have missed in her relentless pursuit of the truth driven by the frustrations of the police investigation.
There’s such a twist in this book that will leave you gasping. And as for the book’s climax – oh my goodness, what fantastic tension-filled writing. I loved this book – as I hope and expect will everyone who reads it.
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Bookouture for my advance reading e-copy. Here are the other stops on the blog tour – you will follow, won’t you?
About the author
The people behind the crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite.
She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both nature and the written word – the latter leading to a successful career as a journalist. For over twenty years people have kindly and bravely shared with her their real experiences of being victims of crime. Now, through fiction, Barbara continues to explore the emotional repercussions.