On a cool October morning, Lauren Wilder is shaken when she comes close to striking Bo Laughlin with her car as he’s walking along the road’s edge. A young man well known in their small town of Hardys Walk, Texas, Bo seems fine, even if Lauren’s intuition says otherwise. Since the accident two years ago that left her brain in a fragile state, she can’t trust her own instincts and neither can her family. Then Bo vanishes, and as the search for him ensues, the police question whether she’s responsible. Lauren is terrified, not of what she remembers but of what she doesn’t. Unable to trust herself and unwilling to trust anyone else, Lauren begins her own investigation into the mystery of Bo’s disappearance. But the truth can prove to be as shocking as any lie, and as Lauren exposes each one, from her family, from her friends, she isn’t the only one who will face heart-stopping repercussions.
I joined the BookSparks’ Fall Reading Challenge this year. Because they are continuing with a theme they developed last year, that means I skipped the freshman year and jumped right into the sophomore year, and I’m now on BookSparks’ Class #2, Manipulation Sciences, Suspense Department (which means this book). So onto this book review………
What “they” say about this book: A suspenseful contemporary mystery thriller, Crooked Little Lies follows the events surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Bo Laughlin, a quirky character familiar to most residents of the small Texas town of Hardys Walk. Bo is also the step-brother of Annie Beauchamp, a young woman who works in the café in town, and they both have lost their mothers. It is also the story of Lauren Wilder, an old-fashioned suburban wife and mother of two adolescents – Drew, 14, and Kenzie, 11 – and how her life unchangeably intertwined with Bo’s disappearance.
My take on Crooked Little Lies: I have not read any other of this author’s books, but the name of this one (along with the cover) caught my eye. Barbara Taylor Sissel’s well-drawn cast of main characters here, as well as the secondary players in the book, make it a very satisfying read. The story was suspenseful with non-stop action. Lauren, a recovering drug addict, can’t trust her memory but it is manageable until she is the last person known to have spoken with Bo before he disappears.
This book started out a little slow, but I think the author was just trying to emotionally attach me to the characters. Once I got over the slow beginning, I will honestly say I couldn’t put the book down and I became connected to the characters. I felt like the characters in the story became people I knew or people that I could know very easily.
I didn’t think the story was one of those “edge-of-your-seat” thrillers, but the book was definitely a page-turner and provided a great plot line and kept me trying to figure things out. I read Crooked Little Lies on my lunch hour at work and stayed up most of the night to finish it.
Though the ending did not come as a surprise, the mastery with which it was build up makes for an exciting read. As the events unfolded, the suspense kept me going, not knowing who to trust or who to believe. With the final reveal, I felt satisfied with how the story turned out. While I was fairly certain I had guessed who was behind everything, seeing just how the author brought it all together was fun. As I said above, this is the first book I’ve read by Barbara Taylor Sissel, but you can bet I will be reading her other books soon.
About the Author: Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. She is the author of six novels, Crooked Little Lies, Safekeeping, Evidence of Life, The Volunteer, The Ninth Step and The Last Innocent Hour.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, she was raised in various locations across the US and once lived on the grounds of a first-offender prison facility, where her experience, interacting with the inmates and staff, provided a unique insight into the inmates’ lives, the circumstances behind the crimes they committed, and the impact on the families that were affected. Her novels focus on the family at the heart of the crime.
Barbara indulges her other passions, exploring, hiking, gardening, reading and stitching on and around the farm where she lives in the Texas Hill Country.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers and BookSparks in exchange for this post, which is my honest review and unbiased opinion.