Note: this review may contain spoilers.
I have been a huge fan of Helen Callaghan’s work ever since I spotted the paperback of Dear Amy; the sleek, red paperback stood out of the pile of best sellers that dominated an already crowded table. Therefore, I was delighted to have been sent her new book, Everything Is Lies.
This book is a departure from Dear Amy, and I think the quality of Callaghan’s work is better because of it. The language is bolder, the characters more realistic, the plot grounded in realism. This book made me feel much more positive about reading, as I had been wanting a book to captivate me for a long time; it is addictive, a thudding read that craves attention. (To illustrate further: I stayed up to midnight, anxious to get to the bottom of the mystery, prior to an interview the next morning.)
Plot? It has more substance than Dear Amy had; the dual narrative is what lends to its distinction. On the one hand, Sophia comes home to find her Mother hanging from a tree, her Father terribly wounded, barely alive. But another character has a story to tell; they compliment each other, reaching a startling conclusion.
This book is also made for English students; on an A level course, your teacher is probably going to bang on about the symbology, the techniques used. But this book uses a wide variety in such an effective manner, creating a sophisticated narrative.
To improve, I think that there could have been a lot less scene setting, and more subtle hints to the true nature of some characters. The book is hard to get into; for the first chapter, I was a little bit bored. The phone call which dominates the opening could have been more dynamic; the protagonist, Sophia, can also sometimes be slow on the uptake-enough so that I could feel myself getting frustrated, as if she was real.
If you need a crime novel fix, or are in withdrawal from your Netflix boxset of choice, this book will perfectly fill the void for you; buy it from Amazon. And see my interview with Helen Callaghan here.
Disclaimer: I was sent this proof copy in exchange for a review by Sarah Harwood at Micheal Joseph. However, prior to this, I had read Dear Amy by the same author and loved it. This review is my honest opinion. You can read more under my Disclaimer.