Monday, March 15, 2021

Her Dark Lies

Her Dark Lies by J. T. Ellison
3/9/21; 416 pages
MIRA Books 

Her Dark Lies by J. T. Ellison is a highly recommended atmospheric novel of suspense with Gothic overtones.

The marriage of Nashville artist Claire Hunter to Jack Compton, the son of a wealthy computer company magnate is imminent. Before they leave for their destination wedding being held at the family cliff-top villa on the Isle Isola off the Italian coast, they are having a reception in Nashville. After the reception, Claire and Jack confront what seems to be a burglary, leaving questions and a police investigation when they continue on to the villa. When they arrive there, skeletal remains have just been found, adding to the dark atmosphere that seems to be targeting their wedding. Ominous, events continue to happen as the family and the selected few guests are at the villa and a series of storms are approaching the island.

Both Claire and Jack are complicated and enigmatic individuals, as is all of Jack's family, so there are many more secrets surrounding the characters than there are immediate answers.  The novel is told through Claire's first person point-of-view, as well as short sections by a person not named until the end, although the identity is evident. Most of the characters are not clearly good or bad, which propels you to keep reading to see what exactly is happening and who can be trusted. Admittedly you have to set skepticism and disbelief aside over the wealth and success of both Claire and Jack.

After a slow start spent describing the settings and characters while introducing a few threatening events, the novel begins to take off after the characters are all on the island, basically trapped with each other and a killer. The threats and suspicious events and deaths keep adding up ratcheting up the suspense to the dramatic denouement. Ellison spends time creating the menacing atmosphere, which helps keep the suspense high. There are no huge surprises or twists in the plot, but this is a compelling  novel of suspense that will grab your attention to the end.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA Books/HarperCollins in exchange for my honest opinion.

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