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More Than You'll Ever Know


More Than You'll Ever Know

Readers of crime fiction itching for their next auto-buy author will love Katie Gutierrez’s debut novel, MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW, a propulsive and suspenseful dual narrative about true crime, family drama, and whether or not you can ever truly know someone.

In 2017, struggling true-crime writer Cassie Bowman has been chasing down violent, gruesome stories for well over a decade. Inspired by late nights watching “Dateline” with her mother and her own family history with an abusive man, Cassie spends hours upon hours trawling the internet for accounts of women hurt, killed and dismembered by men, the darkness of her search history in stark contrast to the quiet, stable life she has built for herself with her fiance, Duke. Although she has had some success blogging, she is desperate to find the story that will launch her to Ann Rule-like fame, a case with layers of mystery and intrigue that she alone can unpack and expose to the world --- and perhaps discover for herself the real whys of domestic violence and murder.

"I absolutely loved MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW for its mystery, unrelenting tension, and razor-sharp, unflinching explorations into womanhood. If you’re itching for a smart, sexy and utterly immersive whodunit that reads like a complex character study, look no further than this explosive debut."

One afternoon, when Cassie is supposed to be getting ready to visit Duke’s family farm, she finds it: an explosive story about a woman who was caught leading a double life married to two men when her first husband murdered her second. Dolores Rivera is an international banker who was able to split her life in two under the guise of travel for work, but now that her lies are out in the open, Cassie is struck by the uniqueness of her case. Women are not known for secretly polygamist marriages, and double lives are often created with the goal of financial gain, which Dolores was not in need of. Cassie reads in the reports that Dolores has refused to comment on her involvement in the murder, but Cassie knows she will speak to her. She has to.

In an alternate timeline, we meet Dolores --- Lore --- in 1985 Laredo, Texas, at the height of a recession. Her husband Fabian’s business is suffering, and their marriage is feeling the strain, as Lore has now become the primary breadwinner for Fabian and their twin sons. On the night we encounter Lore, she is attending a wedding in Mexico City sans her husband. It is there that she meets Andres Russo, who charms her and offers her an escape from her demanding life as a wife and mother. With her job forcing her to travel back and forth, she begins a relationship with Andres, ultimately marrying him.

The mechanics of how she divides her lives is actually the least interesting part of her story, but what makes Lore so outrageously unforgettable is how each relationship draws out different parts, motivations and desires in her. When she learns, in 2017, of Cassie’s interest in writing about her, she sees an opportunity to tell her version of the truth, agreeing to tell Cassie everything except what happened on the night of Andres’ murder.

Each woman’s plot alone is enough to keep you reading. But as they develop their own cat-and-mouse relationship, with Lore writing the script and Cassie excavating the deepest secrets of Lore’s life, MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW becomes less about the murder and more about the story around it --- our obsession with true crime, why some people are drawn to dark stories, and why a woman would risk everything she has for a destined-to-fail double life. As Gutierrez writes, “When it's done right, true crime tells us who we are, who we should fear, who we are always in danger of becoming. Under a careful investigative eye, someone opaque briefly becomes transparent. Even if what's revealed is ugly, it's true. And nothing is more beautiful than the truth.”

And nothing is more beautiful than Gutierrez’s searing, evocative look into the inner lives of women, the demands of marriage and motherhood, and how we craft stories about ourselves and our relationships. With an unreliable narrator (Lore) and a desperate, hungry narrator (Cassie), this literary suspense takes off at a fast pace and never once lets up its grip on the reader’s interest. I finished each chapter both upset that I had to let go of one character’s story and impatient to get to the next one’s.

Lore is perhaps one of the most unforgettable voices in crime fiction, as raw and vivid as Emily Gray Tedrowe’s talented Miss Farwell and as sexy and feminine as Gillian Flynn’s gone girl. Gutierrez has written a delicious paradox of a character: a woman who is fulfilled by her family and still refuses to stop wondering what her life could have been like had she taken a different path. Cassie, meanwhile, is an absolutely perfect foil: quiet and even more protective of her secrets, but ambitious and bright enough to realize that writing Lore’s story means looking deeper into her own.

Both women enter their agreement thinking only of manipulating the other, but they end up changing themselves and reckoning with their pasts in a sweeping, deeply satisfying and somehow totally surprising way. Gutierrez’s handling of their storylines and how she ties them together in the end is utterly jaw-dropping, a meticulous and beautifully drawn conclusion that most experienced authors could not handle.

I absolutely loved MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW for its mystery, unrelenting tension, and razor-sharp, unflinching explorations into womanhood. If you’re itching for a smart, sexy and utterly immersive whodunit that reads like a complex character study, look no further than this explosive debut. Like her unforgettable Lore, Katie Gutierrez is here to stay, and her rich, confident novel marks the arrival of a new great in literary suspense.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on June 10, 2022

More Than You'll Ever Know
by Katie Gutierrez