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Everyone Here Is Lying


Everyone Here Is Lying

“There’s no crime in Stanhope. It’s a small place. Safe as houses. Until it isn’t.”

Amidst the well-manicured lawns and stately homes of Connaught Street, in the family-friendly enclave of Stanhope, we meet William Wooler. He is a husband, a father, a successful businessman…and an adulterer. Things may look perfect here, but they’re far from it. Following an altercation with his difficult nine-year-old daughter, Avery, the girl is reported missing just hours later by her frantic family. Suddenly the tranquility of their small town is shattered. How could this happen here? To the Woolers? Who has taken Avery? Could her own father be responsible?

"[Lapena] draws you in right away, keeping you guessing and the pages turning, and the pace doesn’t relent until the end."

The local police quickly descend upon the Woolers’ house. In charge of the investigation are two detectives: Bledsoe, a resident of the area for years, and Gully, a thirty-something African American woman who recently transferred from Chicago. Local search parties are formed, and volunteers join law enforcement in searching the nearby woods. At first, they assume that Avery was taken somewhere between her school and her house. But something is odd about her father.

After hours of probing, William reluctantly discloses that he came home in the afternoon wanting some privacy, found Avery there and argued with her. (He leaves out the part about how he slapped her across the face, hard enough to lift her off her feet.) This admission rockets William to the top of the suspect list. Did he accidentally kill her in the heat of their fight? Did he have time to dispose of her body?

As Bledsoe and Gully begin in earnest to search for Avery, William’s wife, Erin, and son, Michael, begin to question his involvement. In an effort to give himself an alibi, William comes clean to the detectives, admitting that he wasn’t at his office that afternoon. He has been having an affair and was at a motel with his lover. He won’t reveal her identity to the cops, but it’s Nora Blanchard, a married mother of two who lives just down the street. Upon hearing this information, Erin kicks William out of the house.

Bledsoe and Gully are trying to work out what could be a motive for William. Could it have been an accident and he panicked? Raising such a headstrong child certainly could strain a marriage. Lately, William has noticed a shift between himself and Erin: “’s no longer a problem between the two of them and Avery, because of something she’s done, or not done, it’s a problem between him and Erin and it becomes not about Avery’s behavior, but his. In the end, his wife always makes excuses for Avery, but never for him. She always points out with an annoying air of superiority that he is the adult. Avery is what has come between them; they both know it.” Maybe his resentment turned murderous? But when a search of his home and car turn up nothing, the police can’t hold him unless they drum up more evidence.

Just when it appears that William is the only suspect in town, an anonymous source phones in a tip saying they observed Avery getting into a car with someone who has an indirect connection to William. Each step of the investigation draws the detectives further into the mire of this shady small town that possesses more than its share of secrets.

Shari Lapena’s seventh thriller is in good company with such previous efforts as THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR and SOMEONE WE KNOW. She draws you in right away, keeping you guessing and the pages turning, and the pace doesn’t relent until the end. Lapena is the queen of domestic suspense, a sort of literary David Lynch, daring to peer behind the beautiful suburban facades to the seedy underbelly beneath. While not quite as twisty as some of her earlier offerings, it still keeps you reading at breakneck speed. If you’re looking to cure a reading slump or craving a riveting read in which you can lose yourself over a weekend, EVERYONE HERE IS LYING is for you.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on July 27, 2023

Everyone Here Is Lying
by Shari Lapena