I’ll be eternally grateful to Milly at Quercus for feeding my Jo Spain addiction by allowing me to read and review her books. Thank you for providing me with a copy of The Perfect Lie in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Perfect Lie
Author: Jo Spain
Date of Publication: May 13th 2021
Format reviewed: NetGalley e-ARC
Number of pages: 400
He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.
Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.
Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.
But it was all built on the perfect lie.
Jo Spain is an auto-buy author for me. I don’t even look at the cover or read the title. I see her name and I instantly look for the order button! So, you can imagine my happiness when I got the chance to read The Perfect Lie.
You might have seen my Instagram stories or tweets about me taking the book with me in the bath… and almost drowning! That’s the Jo Spain effect. Perfect is indeed a key word here as the prologue itself ranks high in the top prologues of the century. Like poetry, in the most sublime and relatable prose, Jo paints the portrait of a seemingly happy couple in Newport. Details of their morning routine lull you into a false sense of security as you get to know them. Before a knock on the door will knock you out. I remember letting out a gasp. It takes a lot to surprise me, and I’m not a fan of the announced “exciting twists” Here, there is no ceremony. You get it, right from the start. A shock that will change Erin’s life forever.
At the time you are reading this, I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for weeks. I’m started countless Word documents, begging for the right words to appear on the page. The Perfect Lie is… well… Perfect. I could end my review here and shout “JUST BUY IT” because the worst reviews to write are about the books you love the most. But I will try again.
One day, Erin feels good. Life is good. She’s happily married, living in a nice apartment. The next day her husband is dead, and she’s left with grief and questions. Oh, and later, she’s accused of his murder! How’s that for a perfect plot?
On top of a brilliant question mark hanging above the pages about her husband Danny and how Erin ended up charged with his murder, the plot is cemented by thick layers brought by Erin herself, and the excellent series of secondary characters who inhabit the novel.
A particular angle explored by the author is the expat life. Erin left Ireland five years earlier after a tragic incident. She is now settled in Newport Beach and enjoying her life. At least until Danny dies. After this, Erin is left facing the world alone. Well, not entirely. She does have a couple of people to rely on. Thank God, I’d say. An expat myself, I know just how difficult it is to live without the comfort blanket of family and long-time friends ready to support you at a moment’s notice. It had been Erin and Danny against the world. It became Erin against the world. Jo Spain perfectly (this word again! I swear I have more vocabulary than that!) captured the feeling of belonging, or no-belonging, the urge to rush back to what you know, the reluctance to let go of what you created, and the harsh reality of building a life away from where you were born and raised. To see Erin find support and love warmed my heart and reminded me of my own experience, but you don’t need to have gone through it to be moved by her journey (physical and emotional). The author will take you there.
What happened to Danny? The million-dollar question. Why did he jump out the window when he saw his partner at the door? It is clear from the beginning that Danny had kept Erin out of his police work, and I instantly wondered. Was it for her sake, or for his own? We don’t meet Danny, except during the intense and shocking opening. Even then, he is described by us by Erin. So how do you build your impression of someone? All the reader has is impressions, words, memories, from other people. Try and recreate a portrait this way! But you know what? This is one of the reasons why this novel works so well. Jo Spain offers you bits and pieces from different point of views. She also sprinkles the novel with old and new relationships, and it is up to you to form your opinion from what you’re privy to. The Perfect Lie is not a one-case plot. From a grieving wife’s search for the truth to a very real and taut murder case, the multiple investigations are the perfect (yes, again, that word) setting to get to the core of the book. Can you really know someone? Do you really know yourself?
I have been a huge fan of Jo Spain for some time now, and she proves me once again that I was right, and that I have great taste :p I LOVED this book.
Now I can shout it