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All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson - Review

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

This was another of the books that I got in my box from A Box of Stories, and I had seen good reviews of it in the Facebook group, so I thought I would pick it up soon. I thought the beginning of the book was a little odd, so it took me a day to get into it, but then once I did, I really liked it and wanted to race to the end to know what happened. I ended up sitting for a good hour and a half reading at one point one afternoon. 

The book starts with Harry Ackerson, who has just graduated from college when he gets a call to say that his dad has died in an accident in northeast Maine. Instead of going to his graduation party, Harry rushes home. His only remaining family member now is his young stepmother, Alice. His dad, Bill, owned a book shop and was into rare books. Harry's mother died when he was younger, and Harry has never really got to know Alice too well. 

Bill slipped off the cliff path near his home, but police soon come to the conclusion that he has hit before he fell, so they are looking for a murderer. Harry's suspicion kind of falls on Alice, but then at Bill's funeral a mysterious woman turns up, and Harry starts to look for her to see what the deal is, too.

In a dual narrative we read about Alice's younger years. She was brought up by her single mother, Edith, who was injured in a mill accident and received a sizeable settlement from them. With this money, she and Alice move to Kennewick, where Edith meets Jake, and marries him. I don't want to say too much more here because I'll give away spoilers, and I really enjoyed reading this part of the narrative without having any idea of what was coming. 

The two narratives meet each other in the form of Alice, who is a very, very strange character and very, very cold. I didn't like her and was thoroughly chilled by her, but she's a great character! The first two thirds of the book is concentrated on Bill's home. Grey Lady. I could see in the book that the final third was different - there was a grey page which was evident as you looked at the book - and I didnt' get quite why, but then the final third there were two other narratives which made the preceding part all make sense. I thought it was a great way of separating the book in two. 

I would read something else by Peter Swanson, for sure! I would probably have never picked this up, but I'm really glad it came in my subscription box! 

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