Review: All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette

Homicide Detective Jake Carrington takes murder personally in All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette, the first book in the Jake Carrington Thriller series (available February 27, 2018).

Amazon bestselling author Marian Lanouette arrived on the scene with her first Jake Carrington thriller, If I Fail, in 2012; a sequel, Burn in Hell, followed, as did several holiday-themed romances written under the pseudonym Merry Holly. The two initial series entries were recently acquired through Kensington’s Lyrical Press imprint and are being re-released with new cover art and titles as well as additional content.

All the Deadly Lies (formerly If I Fail) opens with a summons: “Sergeant, in my office, please.” Seldom is such an invocation cause for celebration, and Wilkesbury, Connecticut, Homicide Detective Jake Carrington’s face-to-face with his superior officer is no exception. Captain Shamus McGuire has the unfortunate distinction of alerting Jake to the fact that his younger sister’s killer, George Spaulding, is once again coming up for parole—and that this time, he’s requested a DNA test and samples from the crime scene prior to appearing before the board. Though 17 years have passed since the crime, Jake—who accompanied his father to identify Eva’s body—still suffers from survivor’s guilt and can feel his world begin to reel with the prospect of Spaulding’s release.

There were nights after the trial he dreamed up ways of killing Spaulding, making him suffer as much, if not more, than Eva had. Even today, when his moral code screamed there was no justification for taking a life, he understood deep down in his soul that, if given a chance, he’d remove George Spaulding from the face of this Earth and not look back … Jake felt shame standing in front of Shamus with thoughts of murder in his head. If he did kill, what would separate him from the ones he hunted every day of his life?

Further compounding his anxiety is the investigation he’s currently working with his partner, Louie Romanelli. College student Shanna Wagner was bludgeoned, stripped, and left for dead—all details that remind him of his own sister’s tragic demise. Despite a handful of potential suspects, including a former boyfriend and a domineering best friend, the case is at risk of going cold.

Then, there’s Shanna’s older sister, Chloe, who has taken to hounding the two for updates and berating their lack of progress; Jake, in a lapse of judgment, had a brief romantic relationship with her before breaking things off, and that indiscretion haunts him. Not only is Chloe a person of interest, but knowledge of their dalliance could jeopardize his career.

Things go from bad to worse after Louie and his wife—who, along with their children, also serve as Jake’s honorary family—introduce him to the beautiful and brainy Mia Andrews, who immediately becomes an object of Chloe’s fixation. Regardless of his reputation as a ladies’ man, Jake can envision a future with Mia, but he worries that Chloe’s stalking (and incidents including the dissemination of dead rodents) coupled with the stressors of dating a cop may prove insurmountable. Mia, too, is smitten but comes with her own emotional baggage and a background that has been the ruin of more than one prospective relationship. The ensuing romantic tension is both palpable and problematic.

As Jake struggles to balance his personal and professional lives—including an unofficial review of his sister’s case file and a strained relationship with his mother, who resides in a nursing home—he is promoted to Lieutenant. Supervisory duties follow, as does taking the lead on yet another homicide: the inexplicable shooting death of a recent divorcee/mother of two. (His unease with the Chloe situation also grows, given the heightened visibility that comes with his promotion.) This hodgepodge of competing priorities, though a bit jarring in presentation, is representative of the realities of law enforcement, in which resources are limited and needs unending.

The narrative is as much driven by character as it is by plot (arguably more so), and it shifts viewpoints judiciously. Lanouette clearly enjoys establishing relationship dynamics and sprinkles spirited banter throughout, often as a brotherly busting of chops between Jake and Louie or a more flirtatious foreplay between Jake and Mia. These exchanges occasionally read as if written for the screen rather than the page but otherwise counteract the seriousness of the subject matter nicely.

Still, criminality (and its causes and effects) is very much at the heart of the book, which serves as a poignant study in the different ways that grief manifests itself within those who have lost loved ones to violent crimes. It’s a topic the author has intimate familiarity with, and one that she does justice.

All the Deadly Lies is a rawly rendered thriller that toes the line between feisty and fierce without ever losing its underlying sense of fun. Much like her protagonist, Marian Lanouette has a bold style that demands your attention even as it disarms you. As much as she delivers on here, there’s also the promise of things to come. After all, waiting for resolution(s) is just a part of life.

 

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John Valeri wrote the popular Hartford Books Examiner column for Examiner.com from 2009 – 2016. He can be found online at www.johnbvaleri.com and is featured in the Halloween-themed anthology Tricks and Treats, now available from Books & Boos Press.

Comments

  1. Marian Lanouette

    Thank you, John, for this wonderful review. I’m glad you enjoyed the book.

  2. Chris Wolak

    Sounds good. Thanks for pointing out that it’s set in Connecticut.

    And thanks as always for adding to my To Be Read pile! 😉

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