All the Beautiful Lies ~~ Peter Swanson



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All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson
From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder--a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an "otherworldly" way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it's suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father's home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn't the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous--even deadly--secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.
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About the Book
Time Period
  • Contemporary

 

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4.5 stars
All The Beautiful Lies is the fourth novel by American author, Peter Swanson. Twenty-two-year-old Harry Ackerson is about to graduate from college when his step-mother, Alice rings to tell him his father has unexpectedly died. He heads straight to Maine, overcome with grief. But an autopsy finds that Bill Ackerson was murdered. The bookshop owner had no enemies: who would have wanted him dead?

The widow, though, is acting a little strangely. Perhaps it’s her reaction to grief. Or perhaps his own grief is altering his perception. Then Harry meets Grace, a young lady who attended his father’s service, and the story she tells just doesn’t ring true.

Swanson uses four narrative strands and two time periods to set up this clever thriller. It spans some twenty years, features a few red herrings, a great twist, an exciting climax and a surprise ending, by which time seven characters have met their death due to drowning, choking or being hit on the head with a cosh. The callous behaviour of some of those characters will surely leave the reader gasping.

Swanson makes his characters all the more believable by allowing them to lead normal lives for many years and only commit evil when the situation warrants it. Alice demonstrates the best way to get away with lying: keep telling yourself the preferred version of events until you actually believe it, after which it’s easy to be convincing. Sometimes this will require a fair bit of rationalising, something at which Jake is also an expert, to eliminate any feelings of guilt.

Swanson’s fourth novel is certainly a page-turner and just a few inconsistencies and some odd sentence structure, which should have been picked up by a good editor, prevent this from being a five-star read. Compelling crime fiction.
With thanks to Allen and Unwin for this uncorrected proof copy to read and review
Marianne
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