A new novel by Sharon Bolton is an event. Bolton is one of the very few authors that when a new book by her is released, and I am able to get my hands on it, I ignore all the other books on my shelf. All others on my TBR list, on Netgalley, and even the ones I am currently in the middle of reading. I put them all aside and allow myself the simple joy of her story telling. She is just that damn good.
Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton (SJ Bolton) is something of a departure from her earlier crime novels and very much a stand alone tale. Set in the Falkland Islands, after the war and invasion by the Argentinians; Little Black Lies is a story of a tight knit community, isolated from the mainland, that tragedy and fear drive to hysteria.
In a small community such as the Falkland Islands, the possibility of a missing child is rare. But when there is a second child gone missing and then a third, the Islanders can no longer accept that they have all been accidental.
“…And that was it. From that day on Rachel and I were best friends, needing each other with a passionate intensity I don’t think I’ve ever found in a relationship since. We couldn’t have been more different. She saw world within world, linked by rainbows of endless possibilities. I saw penguin eggs. And yet we were closer than sisters, because this bond of ours was one we had chosen; closer than lovers, because lovers come and go and what we had was for ever. She was the other half of me. The sunshine on the rocks to my shady nook under a tree. The positive keys to minor chords. She was everything I was not and all the things I longed to be, except those qualities were so much better in her and I knew it. She and I were inseparable, regardless of the distance between us. We were the past, the now and the ever more.
Until the day she killed my sons…”
Catrin Quinn, recovering the loss of her two children in a horrific accident and then the loss of a third through miscarriage, is damaged beyond belief and solitary even more so than most on the island. When the children go missing she gets involved in the search. Along with her past lover Callum she is integral in the reclaiming of one of the bodies. But soon, suspicion begins to fall on Catrin where the missing children are concerned. Her anger, her bitterness, her despair, and when another child goes missing…
“…They had nothing especially in common. Except that the two boys were alike enough to be brothers.
Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin, both showed the Spanish influence hat colours much of the population here. Both looked a hell of a lot like Catrin’s two kids.
No one has argued louder, or with more passion than me, that there is a killer on these islands. No one has claimed more frequently than me that three missing kids, never mind four, goes way beyond coincidence. Finally, the rest of the population is coming round to my way of thinking.
Jesus Christ, what have I done…”
The next child to go missing is the son of Catrin’s childhood friend Rachel. The very woman Catrin holds responsible for the deaths of her two children. Could Catrin, in grief and despair, have become a child serial killer?
Little Black Lies is an intense thriller that is unlike the current series by Bolton (Lacey Flint series, very highly recommended). There is very little in the way of violence in this story or scenes of murder and gore. The drama that plays out in this story is in the mind and emotions of the three main characters; Catrin, Callum, and Rachel. The event of one week unfold with tragedy as the three try to make sense of what is happening around them on their small island. Worse is when the town itself, in fear, turn against them. The main character is Catrin and Bolton writes her with such an intense feeling of despair that you hold onto a thin hope that she will recover from her grief before she really does do something and in your heart you are never sure that she didn’t. That the missing children are because of her.
Bolton is a master at the psychological thriller whether its in the violence of a jack the ripper second coming or the despair of a grieving mother. Little Black Lies is another example of how powerful a writer she really is.
A terrific read!