Little Black Lies – Sharon Bolton
Living in a small island community, you can’t escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you’ve lost – your family, your future, your sanity.
How long before revenge becomes irresistible?
With no reason to go on living, why shouldn’t you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds?
So now, what’s the worst thing you can do to your best friend?
My thanks to Alison at Transworld for my review copy.
It is three years since Catrin lost her two sons in a tragic accident which all but destroyed her life. Her childhood friend, Rachel, was responsible for the loss of the two young lives and Catrin has a burning hatred for her oldest friend that she cannot reconcile.
The story opens with Catrin’s narrative. We learn of her loss and the loneliness that she feels. Her empty house holds the memories/ghosts of her children and her ex-husband now starting a new life with his new wife and has a new young baby to care for. For Catrin her former friend and ex-husband are always nearby – living in a small Falklands community it is hard to escape their presence. You feel that Catrin is struggling to hold onto her sanity and every day is a challenge. We share her sleepless nights and mourn with her over the empty life she now leads.
When Catrin’s every waking moment is consumed with the loss of her sons it is further torment when a family visiting the island discover that their son has wandered off and cannot be found. An island-wide search party is formed to trace the missing boy. However, Catrin’s friends are concerned about how she may cope with the hunt for a missing child – particularly as this is not the first time a child has gone missing on the island.
The narrative follows Catrin to a critical point; she finally has an opportunity to extract revenge upon Rachel and the last of her mental defences appear to have been shattered as she has been forced to take an innocent life. Yet before we learn how Catrin reacts the narrative switches to a second player in the story.
Callum is an ex-soldier that fought in the Falklands conflict and now resides on the island. He suffers from PTSD and is prone to blackouts but he is resisting a return to Scotland and an escape from the memories of the fighting. We know that Callum is a friend of Catrin but as his narration picks up we also learn that Catrin has become a suspect over the disappearance of the missing child. Callum is convinced of Catrin’s innocence and through his viewpoint we are treated to a different view of Catrin and her unusual behaviour.
Callum’s perspective of Catrin and the events on the island leads the reader to question their understanding of what may be happening. Clever and twisty, however, not content with muddying the waters with Callum’s interpretation of events Sharon Bolton switches to a third narrator: Rachel.
Rachel is woman responsible for the death of Catrin’s children and the woman Catrin has vowed to kill. From the opening chapters we have seen Rachel painted as the villain of the piece so it is something of a shock to get her perspective of events too. Like Catrin and Callum, Rachel has some serious issues that she is struggling to contend with. We realise that each of our narrators are deeply flawed, highly paranoid and that their recounting of events simply cannot be trusted.
I cannot reveal too much more than I have already as to do so robs the reader of the majestic and complex web of Little Black Lies that Sharon Bolton has spun. Suffice to say the story climax was exhilarating and left me lost for words.
Little Black Lies is published by Bantam Press and is available in Hardback and digital formats.