I think I’m hard to please. It’s not unexpected from someone who’s devoured books since Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. I think reading was my way of coping when all around me was going to shit, as my daughter likes to say. Everything I needed I found in books; I simply preferred characters’ lives than my own, even when they were about to be hung from a meat hook. My point is…my book reviews are written from the heart. Like a relationship I weigh up the good against the bad. What I won’t do is tell you about the story because that’s for the reader, not the reviewer. When you query an agent about your book, many ask you to describe your premise is a few sentences. Sweet Little Lies is a murder. The young detective constable investigating (Cat) is terrified her father is involved. Memories of a missing girl, years ago, haunt her. A girl her father gave a lift to. A girl her father denied knowing. Now the body of a woman is found near her Dad’s pub.
In a novel I like to find a phrase or sentence I adore, one I wish I’d written; there wasn’t one but this quote reflects the flavour of the novel.
“I don’t know with absolute certainty that Dad knows anything about what happened to Maryanne Doyle. Problem is, while the lie is sweet as it falls from your lips, the feeling in your gut is always putridly sour.”
Sweet Little Lies is the first book in months I read in two days. Day one: I wasn’t totally gripped. If I applied agents’ three chapter assessment I would comment ‘I liked it but didn’t love it.’ It should have begun with the murder. Also Cat comes across a little smart Alec and immature early on. The writing didn’t flow as fluidly as I like but it improves and for the heart of the novel the prose was consistenly good and I was hooked.
I’m getting the bits I didn’t like out of the way.
This book had the potential to be the next Girl on a Train but editing held it back. The first four chapters are the weakest. Nothing drew me in. The flashbacks are messy. Is it Nancy Drew or is it a taut thriller? Cat should be older for a start, ten or eleven. Fleeting memories should hit you with just the clues that point to her father’s guilt and not the bloody Spice Girls. Also being Irish decent I found the ‘throw every colloquialism in’ irritating. Caz eases off on this in later conversation with Irish characters. This point helps me with my WIP because it’s set in Ireland. Lastly there are at least three typos; I’m not the most alert, there may be more. Page 136 – Caz waking up is unclear. Page 150 ‘he did he have’ . Page 369 ‘wouldn’t wish that anyone’. These remind you it’s a book; it’s not real. I’m sure Random Attachment has plenty of typos, I’m highly medicated, and I’ll be happy if a reader points them out as I can amend.
The good stuff. Chapter 5 where we meet Tom Lapaine, the victim’s husband, has me curling up on the sofa. The writing herein is dynamic, the flow takes me on a choppy water ride, gathering momentum with each chapter. The characters are well constructed and relevant to the story. Events, truths, emotions unravel perfectly and I’m completely immersed in the sub plots. Particularly Cat’s relationship with her father which is like an elastic band stretched to its limits. With each page I warm to Cat, I want a happy outcome for her.
I would be interested in another Cat Kinsella crime. I image Caz Frear growing from the book; I think she has the potential to write brilliantly from the get go. Also I loved the book cover, the colours are striking and that’s what led me to picking up Sweet Little Lies in the bookshop.
Out of 5 hearts I’m giving ♥♥♥♥