Tales of a City Girl

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies is an exceptional book, whose  characters and plot will leave you questioning everything right up to the last paragraph – and then leaves you there with a new twist. If you are a fan of smart, well constructed thrillers, make this your next read.

Little Black Lies opens on the story of Catrin, a woman consumed with anger and revenge after her childhood best friend, Rachel, accidentally killed her two young sons three years ago by leaving them in a car which drove off a cliff.

We are introduced to other characters in her life too, of which there is a shrinking number – Callum, the man who was her lover, Ben, the man who was her husband, and Rachel, the woman who was her best friend.

The story is based in a community in the Falkland islands, where tragedy is as rife as the gossip surrounding it. Two other little boys are missing, and there is constant speculation as to what happened to them. Did Catrin take them? Was it someone else? Was it something else? It’s a maudlin read, but gripping too.

The book is divided into three parts, telling the point of view of Rachel and Callum as well as Catrin. Little Black Lies has a way of making you feel sympathy for each character, as well as a sense of mistrust and dislike too. Each are a symptom of their environment and the events that have happened to them, rather than their innate personalities, but those environments have left them scarred. They’re difficult to love as characters, but they’re also difficult not to care for too.

Using the Falklands as a setting also added to the sense of desolateness and loneliness.  One of the main triptych of characters, Callum, is a soldier who fought in the Falkland wars in the 80s and came back to the island to fight his demons. I think the setting is instrumental to the plot, and I’d struggle to see this book working as well if it was set in a city, like London for example. Like many other aspects of the book, this seems methodical and deliberate – I get the sense with this author that nothing is a fluke.

The book picks up pace when Rachel’s youngest son, Peter, also goes missing. All eyes are on the unfeeling Catrin. This is where the book really comes into its own and, to use a bit of a cliché, keeps you guessing to the end. What was his fate, and who caused it? There’s a lot of jumping around and admissions of guilt, which could seem far-fetched, but the author is brilliant at making everything perfectly plausible.

I loved this book and look forward to reading more from the author – I’m a bit hooked.

Star rating – 4.5/5 (closest to a five yet though)