3/9/21; 416 pages
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
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA Books/HarperCollins in exchange for my honest opinion.