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Behind Every Lie


Behind Every Lie

Identity, more specifically questions about true identity, is a familiar trope in literary thrillers. Christina McDonald adds her efforts to this library with BEHIND EVERY LIE, a domestic thriller spanning two continents and 25 years.

Eva Hansen being struck by lightning one night is actually not the worst thing that happens to her. Upon awakening in the hospital, she learns not only that is she suffering the results of the lightning strike, but that her mother, Kat, was murdered in her Seattle home the night before. And it quickly becomes clear that Eva is the primary suspect. Her memory is spotty at best; she can remember slivers of a bloody scene. But does that mean she was there when her mother was killed? Or, even worse, that Kat died by her hand? This trauma forces Eva to confront a sexual assault years ago --- one that similarly robbed her of her memory and challenged her to make difficult decisions in order to survive and recover.

"BEHIND EVERY LIE is a page-turner and an entertaining read. Many readers will enjoy Eva’s breathless race of discovery and journey of survival."

After the murder, Eva finds a note Kat wrote to her stating that Kat was not her birth mother but someone who protected her from danger. To understand her mother’s death --- and the possibility of her own role in it --- Eva follows Kat’s cryptic message to London, where they lived before coming to the US, to learn more about her past. Once there, the feelings she had back in Washington, of being watched and followed, intensify. Yet everyone is telling her that she is being paranoid, and that the lightning strike and Kat’s death have affected her memory. Eva doubts what she knows, even as she tries to learn who she is.

With a detective wanting her for questioning, and a grieving brother and worried fiancé at home, Eva rushes to understand her past, her choices and her family before it is too late. As she tries to find out more about the secrets that Kat kept from her and how they may have led to her death, Eva also must reckon with the choice she made to put her own daughter up for adoption, and with her increasingly troubling engagement to Liam.

Eva’s is not the only story told in BEHIND EVERY LIE. Her perspective alternates with Kat’s, starting over two decades ago, as the young mother befriends the artistic and lovely Rose and her daughter, Laura. Their friendship brings Kat much joy, especially as she finds herself in an abusive marriage with a powerful man. When tragedy strikes, both Kat and Rose quickly hatch a plan that will alter the course of their lives, and Eva’s, forever.

BEHIND EVERY LIE begins by posing many questions. Through Eva’s haphazard inquiries and instinct-driven sleuthing, as well as through the flashback chapters narrated by Kat, readers will piece together the answers along with the protagonist. Suspense builds as it should: Eva is trying to avoid the police and a shadowy stalker up until the conclusion of the novel. There are plenty of twists --- some surprising, others predictable. In fact, perhaps McDonald gives this story of memory and motherhood a few too many elements: a too-good-to-be-true partner and the return of an old flame; accidental deaths, assaults, murder, abuse and violent acts of nature; a mourning cop and metaphoric artwork; not to mention a few implausible plot devices and some clunky British vernacular.

Yet, in its better moments, BEHIND EVERY LIE is a page-turner and an entertaining read. Many readers will enjoy Eva’s breathless race of discovery and journey of survival.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 7, 2020

Behind Every Lie
by Christina McDonald