No-one is who you think they are – Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.
Everyone has secrets – Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.
Especially those closest to you – The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name.
And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .
What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born?
I really enjoyed her debut novel Dear Amy, and Everything is Lies is another cracking story from Helen Callaghan. It’s well written, tense, and with some good twists. (You can find my review of Dear Amy here).
Right from the first chapter I felt myself being drawn into something dark, a feeling that something bad was going to happen to Sophia.
Sophia is an architect in her late 20s. Her parents run a garden centre and coffee shop in rural Suffolk. They live a quiet, unremarkable life. Sophia has ‘escaped’ and lives in London and has just started a new job. Her mother calls her one night when Sophia is out with colleagues and Sophia brushes her off.
The next morning, feeling rather guilty, she drives down to Suffolk and comes across the horrific sight of her mother’s body hanging from a tree and her father lying in blood and near to death. The Police suspect it is an attempted murder-suicide; that Sofia’s mum had tried to kill herself and when Sofia’s father had tried to stop her, she had stabbed him.
Sophia is sure her mother isn’t a killer and wants to clear her mother’s name. After her mother’s funeral, an elderly couple appear who turn out to be Sofia’s maternal grandparents. She didn’t know them and they don’t seem very nice.
As she tries to find out more about her parents she discovers she didn’t really know them at all. She learns from Rowan who works for her father that they had been burgled several times in recent months. From a letter she also found out that her mother had written a memoir and had been been in touch with a publisher who had seen part of the handwritten manuscript and was keen to publish once they had the final part. Sophia knew nothing of this. After a fruitless search of the house she finds two of the notebooks hidden in her father’s shed but no sign of the third and final part of the manuscript. However during her search she comes across a recent receipt for the purchase of a gun and cartridges and a shotgun licence in her mother’s name but no sign of the actual gun.
Everything is Lies is really two books in one. Much of it is her mother’s memoir. Her mother’s manuscript starts with a message for Sophia but ominously, the first line is “Everything is lies and nobody is who they seem”. Then she starts reading the memoir and learns of some shocking things. Could the revelations in the book have contributed to her mother’s death?
Having read the two notebooks Sophia wants to try and track down the people her mother had been involved with to fill in some gaps but is she about to put herself in danger?
There’s a lot going on in this book and the tension mounts as doubts creep in. Who can Sophia trust? She’s dealing with her mother’s death, her father in hospital in a coma, the fact that Rowan seems to know more about her parents than she does. Her mother has written a book (a memoir) revealing a completely different life before Sophia was born. Meanwhile Sophia is trying to hold on to her job and also trying to keep her parents’ business afloat; there’s even an attempt on her life; and she’s also trying to trace people who may or may not have had something to do with her mother’s death.
There are enough twists and sub-plots to keep the book interesting. An excellent psychological/crime thriller.
[My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing a digital ARC]