Sunday, November 22, 2020

To Tell You the Truth

To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan
9/22/20; 352 pages

To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan is a highly recommended twisty mystery.

Lucy Harper is the famous, wildly successful author of novels featuring her beloved character Detective Sargent Eliza Grey. The trouble is, her latest novel doesn't have Eliza in it and her publisher wants it rewritten. Her husband, Dan, an unsuccessful writer, is currently her manager. He is upset at her and the loss of income due to her rewrite, but he is also making important decisions without consulting her. When Dan disappears, it becomes known that Lucy has changed her name and this isn't the first time she's been involved in someone's disappearance. In 1991 when Lucy was nine and her brother Teddy was three, she secretly left the house late at night with Teddy to watch a summer solstice celebration in the woods outside Bristol, England. Something happened that night and Teddy disappeared. The case was never solved. Now, with Dan missing, Lucy's a suspect, but as the novel progresses, Lucy becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator and it also seems there is more going on than we know.

The novel features the current story line with chapters following the events from 1991 interspersed in between them. Both timeline present an interesting story. We also learn that Eliza, Lucy's character in her novels, actually began as her imaginary childhood friend. Dan's actions are also suspect. The plot itself, however, follows a tried and true formula. As I was reading I kept thinking I had recently read several books with the same plot. Macmillan does do a great job presenting the story and upping the suspense, so it is still a formula that works to create an enjoyable mystery. The ending is a bit unexpected and didn't quite work for me.

Lucy clear becomes increasingly an unreliable character. As she begins to talk to her imaginary friend, Eliza, it brings her sanity into question. You know she lied to police about what really happened in 1991, so is she telling the truth now? She is a reticent, odd character who constantly questions her own thoughts and decisions, which in turn makes her more unreliable. Even the people she is talking to as she tries to figure out what happened to Dan cast doubt on her grip with reality/sanity. The layers of duplicity keep piling up as the plot unfolds.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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