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One Good Lie by Jane Isaac - Review

Saturday, January 6, 2024

I can't remember where I got this book but it was hanging out by the side of the bed so I picked it up. I wanted to like it but sort of didn't, really. The story and mystery are quite interesting, but the denouement didn't quite work for me which sort of ruined the whole thing. I did see quite a lot of the twists coming and some of the red herrings, too, and I had worked out who the murderer was by like two thirds of the way through. This wouldn't make me want to read something else by Jane Isaac, for sure!

The story centres on two sisters and it opens on their mother's birthday, when the family is having a memorial for her. Aileen, the mother, was murdered ten months previously, in the kitchen of her shop in a small Leicestershire town called Market Deeton. Her partner Colin was found guilty and is now serving a sentence for it. He maintained his innocence and said he was with a girl called Charlotte at the time. However, Charlotte went missing and Colin got found guilty. Her daughters are Ruby and Sophie.

Ruby is the older one and she's a kitchen designer working for a small company. She has recently bought a house with her boyfriend Tom, but they're kind of on a break because Ruby isn't sure what she wants, and of course she's still grieving for her mum. Most of the book centres on Ruby and I did like her as a character. 

Sophie is the younger sister and she's got two children, Daisy and Alfie. She's a single mum since the kids' dad Greg left. She had a breakdown then and Colin was her therapist, so Sophie feels tremendously guilty for introduing him to her mother. Sophie started seeing Ewan just a couple of months before Aileen's death. He's really good with her kids but hasn't yet introduced her to his family.

On the day of Aileen's memorial, Ruby walks home from Sophie's house through the town centre. She is harassed by some teenagers outside the shop, and then she runs into Ewan. The two talk and then have a drunken kiss before being interrupted by someone at the top of an alley. Ruby feels awful and runs home. The next morning, however, the police family liaison office is at her door to tell her that Charlotte was killed the night before in the town. She had recently returned to the area and now she's dead. The police don't think the case is linked to Aileen's death, but obviously Charlotte was linkedto the case. And of course, Colin can't be the perpetrator as he's now in prison. 

Ruby knows that Ewan was in the area at the time, of course, and she has her suspicions about him. They talk, and agree to not mention that they ran into each other. But Ruby starts to get suspicious about her whole life and starts to wonder - what do they really know about Ewan? What is his past? Maybe Colin's conviction isn't as strong as Ruby thought. 

Meanwhile, Sophie is hiding things from Ruby. She is still fragile after her breakdown and Ruby knows she has to tread carefully. 

I did like the mystery and I liked how most of it unfolded, but the end really let it down for me and I was glad to see the back of the book by the end. The ending just seemed to come out of nowhere; I didn't feel like the author had done a good enough job of sowing the seeds there. I also felt like the book needed a better edit - there were loads of mistakes like people's names used wrongly (eg Ruby goes to visit Sophie's friend Louise, and instead of saying 'Louise' it says 'Sophie', where she isn't there) and some times are all out. Ruby has a meeting with someone at 3pm but turns up to the cafe at 11.30? Come on now. I feel like a closer edit would have helped a lot!

In all I'm giving this three out of five, I didn't like it a lot. 

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