We Lie Here by Rachel Howzell Hall is a recommended domestic thriller.
Yara Gibson, a writer on a television crime drama, reluctantly
leaves L.A. and returns to her childhood home in Palmdale,
California, to oversee her parents’ 20th wedding anniversary
party. Her 19 year-old sister can't help in any constructive way. Her
dominating, bossy, and demanding mother wants a party, so Yara feels
pressured into making sure she gets what she wants. Adding to the stress
is the fact that Yara is asthmatic. The desert dust storms already
present a problem, but her mother's demand that Yara stay at the
family's home among the pervasive cigarette smoke surely mean nothing
but wheezing and struggling for the next breathe.
Then, soon after her arrival, a stranger sends her a text saying, "I have information that will
change your life." The message is from a woman called Felicia Campbell, who claims to be a
childhood friend of Yara’s mother. She is insistent that the two have to talk. She leaves a key to
remote lakeside cabin for Yara, but soon after this Felicia's body is
found. What is the big secret and who would kill Felicia to prevent her
from telling it to Yara.
Yara is the narrator of the novel and she is a completely realized
and sympathetic character. She is really the only appealing character in
the novel. She is likable, which kept me reading, but at the same time,
there are a couple of fundamental questions that immediately came to
mind. The first is the reliability of Yara as a narrator. She has
admitted she's forgetful and has anxiety issues. The second is her
maturity or inner strength. She is seemingly incapable of saying no to
her mother. She didn't just tell her mother: No, I am staying at the
hotel. I am trying to quit smoking and will not stay at the smoke filled
house. Additionally, her mother demanded that Yara throw her big party for a 20th anniversary, not a really common thing to do.
The greatest drawback to We Lie Here, however, is the very
slow pace through most of the novel. It requires a commitment to stay
with it until the more intriguing questions arise. Once mysteries begin
and secrets begin to be revealed, the plot quickly becomes more
interesting, twisty, and intriguing. The ending was worth the long slog
through most of the novel.