Title: The Darkest Lies
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite
Date of publication: May 12th 2017
Number of pages: 433
A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.
Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.
Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?
As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…
A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.
You know how we keep saying lying is always a bad idea? Well, The Darkest Lies is the perfect example of just how deep lies can go, take roots in every family, and destroy everything from within.
The title is a warning. You are not in for joyous story about sunflowers and happy families pic-nicking on Sundays. I knew it. I am used to the genre. But the opening made me queasy with a foreboding feeling I couldn’t shake and suddenly, my heart and guts were gripped and squeezed so tight I had trouble reading!
Parents and teenagers. I have always wondered where and when the cut happened. You know, that moment you don’t tell your father you’re the one who broke the vase, or you steal a couple of cookies from your mother’s just-out-of-the-oven batch. Harmless lies, of course. But as we grow up, each and every one of them grows with us. No, you won’t get to that party. No, you don’t have a boyfriend. Is it a need for privacy? A fear of being chided? The thrill of the risk of being discovered? Like all teens, I lied to my mother. I do still lie sometimes to people, usually about small things that get me out of a never-ending conversation or explanation or simply because it’s easier.
But lies create a wall between people. Before you can realize it, you create two faces for yourself. I used to believe parents and kids were too close for this to happen. Then I opened my eyes and realized kids, those innocent little things brought into the world by lovely (crazy) parents, are humans of their own, with a mind, dreams and problems. And no matter how strong the relationship, teens are teens, people are people. Lies happen. And some lies have darker consequences than others. This is the harsh reality Melanie and her family learns in The Darkest Lies.
As you can see, this book got me thinking a lot. How much do you know about your daughter? Someone you see and talk to every single day. Someone you watch grow and develop into a woman? Melanie thought she knew her daughter well, so when she disappears and her mother learns she wasn’t at her best friend’s for the night, her bubble explodes. Why would Beth have lied? Where is she? Every parent’s nightmare. Here I must congratulate the author for her choice of narration, with Melanie talking to her daughter throughout the book. This broke my heart in so many pieces, it put me in Melanie’s shoes when I don’t even have a child. It heightened every emotion. It was dramatically perfect. It raised questions and left scars that no bandages could mend.
Suddenly, every place, every detail is important. The coat hanging loosely on the back of a chair, the hair brush left on a desk among homework and letters from friends. Unimportant things that take on a very special meaning when you think of the person who has left them here, and who is not back home. I loved the descriptive details of mundane things you only notice when something is wrong, I sadly relished in the accuracy of the representation of the bubble of loneliness that fear and uncertainty put Melanie in. Yes, people are around, but they don’t see, they don’t feel this excruciating pain, the silence in your heart as what you cherish the most hasn’t regained the nest. I felt so much sympathy for Melanie because her feelings were given to me on a plate, with no sugar on it. It felt too real to handle and I was as crushed as she was.
Another favorite thing of mine with this book is the wall between the police and the family. I love crime stories and playing detective, but here Beth’s family is left entirely out of the investigation, which I found very realistic… and so devastating. What do you do when you are left on your own and you need answers? You go look for them yourself! The not-knowing about the investigation kept me closely involved with Melanie as I followed her making choices, good or bad, anything to find out what had happened.
It turns out the quiet little town has a lot to say but too much is at stake for everyone and no one is willing to help. No one except an old friend of the “poor teen’s mother” freshly back in town. As she digs through every meter of the place, appearances fall as fast as alibis, discoveries are made, creating a web of suspicion on everyone around Melanie and Beth, and masks are put on and off, leaving the truth in the dark, and the mother desperate for anything to bring her closer to her daughter.
The spotless characterization makes every person in town looking shady, and I was scrabbling at the pages as secrets were revealed, whether related to Beth’s attack or not. I started wondering just how many secrets are floating around us daily, and next time someone laughs at my paranoia, I’m offering them the darkest lies as a gift!!!!
There is so much going on in this novel that your brain feels just like Melanie’s: in a constant fog, confused at people’s reactions, faced with the hard reality that trusting people is a dangerous thing to do. I was impressed by the extraordinary amount of work behind the plot, and even if I saw a few things coming, I was left speechless by the flawless narration and the harrowing emotions that rushed through me until the very end.
The Darkest Lies deserves its 5 stars!
The people behind the crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite.
She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both nature and the written word – the latter leading to a successful career as a journalist. For over twenty years people have kindly and bravely shared with her their real experiences of being victims of crime. Now, through fiction, Barbara continues to explore the emotional repercussions.