Author – Sharon (SJ) Bolton
Published – 2 July 2015
Genre – Crime fiction / psychological thriller
I would normally wait until closer to the date of publication but I enjoyed this book so much that I can’t wait to tell people about it. If you met me at Crimefest and asked what the best book I’d read so far this year was then you will have heard me extolling the virtues of Little Black Lies already. I have to say that this is likely to be a shorter review than normal because I don’t really want to give very much of the story away.
The setting is unusual, it’s the Falkland Islands, and the remote location, rugged landscape and isolated community give Bolton a great setting, reminiscent of nordic / scandi noir.
The story, set in 1994, takes place over 6 days and is told in three parts, each from a different point of view. We start with Catrin, an Islander who lost her two small sons in an accident for which she holds her former best friend Rachel responsible. As the third anniversary of the boys’ deaths approaches she has come up with a plan which will put an end to the grief that still envelopes her. Her plans are interrupted when she is drafted in to help search for a small boy who has disappeared, and it seems this is not the first time a child has gone missing.
The other points of view are Callum, a former serviceman who fought on the islands and returned to settle, and Rachel, Catrin’s former best friend. Rather than swapping pov through the book, the three sections are discrete and this gives you a much better feel for the three individuals. Using the different characters and their different perspectives is used to hide some facts and reveal others, which keeps the reader guessing.
I’ve not read all of Bolton’s books (yet) but there are certainly similarities in the themes of this book which are familiar from Sacrifice and Like This, For Ever. The death and loss of children can be seen as taboo and the grief and the devastating effect this has had on Catrin are both moving and credible. But having isolated herself from everyone who cares about her, Catrin is moving through to anger and revenge.
Bolton has a compelling way of writing and I know ‘page turner’ is something of a cliché but I really couldn’t put this down, I just had to find out what happened next. This is by far the book I have most enjoyed so far this year, a skilfully woven story with engaging and sympathetic characters that uses multiple perspectives to ingenious effect.
Thank you to the publisher for the netgalley. You can see another point of view over at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.