Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton is a standalone mystery about a mother who, three years after her two young children disappeared, is plotting revenge (available May 19, 2015).
Little Black Lies may sound like the title of cozy mystery, but don’t let the title of this amazing book fool you. There’s very little that’s cozy about Sharon Bolton’s devastating story of death, guilt, and grief. It is also about moving on—or at least trying to—after a tragedy.
It’s been almost three years since Catrin Quinn lost her two young sons, and so much more, in a terrible accident. To the outside world, she seems to be coping. She goes to work and checks on the condition of the marine life near her hometown in the Falkland Islands and interacts with coworkers, neighbors, and family. But her losses haunt her. During the day, any person or place can bring it all back. At night, alone at home with her dog, there’s nothing to distract her from her grief and guilt. And plans for revenge.
I believe just about anyone can kill in the right circumstances, given enough motivation. The question is, am I there yet? I think I must be. Because lately, it seems, I’ve been thinking of little else.
It is a minute after midnight. In two days’ time it will be the third of November. Two more days. Am I there yet?
After the initial shock of figuring out that I was not reading another cozy, I was hooked. While I have nothing—other than gender—in common with Catrin Quinn, I felt every emotion right along with her. She’s a fascinating character. Strong, prickly and self-assured one minute and a hollow, emotional wreck the next. We know right away that she is planning something big for the anniversary of her boys’ deaths, but what?
In high school, we read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Mr. Treppa’s English Lit. I class. I was fascinated by the poem. Apparently, so is the author as it features prominently in the story. While Catrin says she hates Coleridge’s poem, she seems to know the whole thing by heart and realizes how much of it applies to her situation.
After living with Catrin for over one hundred pages, I was disappointed to be shifted to another character’s point of view. Then I found Callum Murray to be just as fascinating to walk alongside as Catrin. A Scot who first came to the Falklands as a paratrooper during the war, Callum has returned to face his own losses and demons. And, of course, he gives us a little different view of events past and present.
‘What happened to doctor/patient confidentiality?’ I say this to make a point rather than because I’ve a snowball in hell’s chance of keeping anything quiet in this place. Once a fortnight for the past three years I’ve had hour-long appointments with a counsellor and, within a week of the first, everyone on the islands knew I was seeing the local shrink. (Except Catrin, as I learned Tuesday night.) They’ve all been pretty good about it. While ex-patriots here are known as the three Ms – Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits – former servicemen are cut a lot of slack.
I’ve never asked which of the three Ms I am. I’ve never needed to.
I usually read on my lunch break at work. Doesn’t everyone? But this book had me reading on my fifteen minute breaks, too. Even if I only had time for a few pages, I had to see what was next. While the pacing seems leisurely, the build-up of tension from one page to the next—even with point of view changes—had me staying up late and reaching for the book first thing in the morning. Often before my eyes could focus properly. It invaded my dreams. I found myself thinking about Catrin, Callum, the lost boys and the Falklands in the car, at the store, even while watching television.
Speaking of the Falkland Islands… My only knowledge of them before reading Little Black Lies was that there had been a war fought there by the British and the Argentines over its possession, and that they are a stop for travelers on the way to the South Pole. Oh, and that there are a lot of sheep. I loved getting more of the history as well as feeling like I was actually visiting the place and meeting some of the residents. All of this was done without interfering with the pacing at all.
I have never thought of the Falkland Islands as a place I would like to visit. And they still seem rather stark and forbidding. But the virtual time I spent there was fascinating.
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
Debbie Meldrum reads just about everything she can get her hands on. She was the short fiction editor for Apollo's Lyre and the Editor in Chief of the Pikes Peak Writers NewsMag. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her first novel.
Read all of Debbie Meldrum's posts for Criminal Element!