Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

 Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

Thank you Christina McDonald, Gallery Books and NetGalley for gifting me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the US on February 4, 2020.

This adult fiction book is billed as a mystery thriller. Ms. McDonald takes a dramatic look into the domestic human psyche—a study of love, life choices, best intentions, secrets and lies—and it proved to be a lightening bolt of a read. (Sorry I couldn’t resist.)  This is the first book that I have read by Christina McDonald but I am sure to read more now that I have read this one.

Ms. McDonald weaves a tale around a mother and a daughter who are each keeping secrets and the efforts they made to keep them that way. They both have convinced themselves that they are keeping their respective secrets with the purest of best intentions.

Kat and Eva, our mother and daughter, have a complex complicated relationship one that becomes even more emotionally intense when dangerous long held secrets begin to be uncovered.

The author employs one of my favorite plotting styles as the action shifts from present day Seattle as daughter, Eva, desperately searches for answers and the past as mother, Kat, details the life she lived 25 years ago in London with the rich well imagined scenes making you feel as if you are there.

One moment Eva is attending a family dinner party at a restaurant in downtown Seattle to celebrate her mother’s recent award for her dramatic rescue of a young child. The next moment Eva wakes up in a hospital bed, fiancee Liam by her side, but with no memory of how she got there.

Her doctor explains that she was found in the middle of the street after having been struck by lightening and the police detective hovering ominously over her bed tells her that not only has her mother been murdered that she is the main suspect.

Liam bundles her home before the detective can ask too many questions but Eva is understandably in a panic as she searches for her memories and for answers to her mother’s death. Following a clue found in her mother’s house she skips out of town on her own and travels to London hoping to find the answers she needs.

There are mysteries, clues, and red herrings around every corner and this is one of those books where it is hard to write a review without revealing too much of the plot. The mystery and uncertainties both add to the suspense and keep you guessing—this results in fantastic tale of murder, deception, and family from both Eva’s and Kat’s point of view.

So I feel that sharing my opinions about how things further develop will come at the expense of supplying spoilers and this is not fair to other readers or to the author. But I cannot resist a little more commentary on Kintsugi as I always enjoy learning something new when I am reading. 

Eva is a pottery artist. One of her clients sends her a broken piece of pottery and asks if she can repair it—and in her research she stumbles upon the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with a mixture of gold and glue known as Kintsugi.

Wanting to know more and to see examples I took to Wikipedia and this is what I discovered.

Kintsugi is the art of embracing damage, it treats breakage as part of an object’s history and not as something to disguise. In Japan it is both a practice and a philosophy, a way of thinking.

Kintsugi is itself a meld of several philosophies such as  Wabi Sabi,  Mushin, and Zen—all practices that embrace flaws, imperfections, equanimity, and the beauty of broken things.

Over the course of a human existence one inevitably encounters bad breaks, broken hearts, broken promises, and broken dreams an allegory that could not be seen more clearly than in the shattering breaks that ceramic ware often experiences during its existence. 

I am not sure which Ms. McDonald encountered first, the idea for this novel or Kintsugi— but  to my mind she couldn’t have picked a better way to express this concept as it applies to the human psyche of her characters.

Through Eva, Ms. McDonald tells us that Kat had a favorite saying:

We can be strong and brave and broken and whole all at the same time.

While some reviewers quibbled about the bolt of lightening-in my own opinion I found it a perfect literal metaphor for the actual events that shattered Eva’s world.

After all what better way to blow apart and shatter a persons life than with a bolt of lightening right down to those feathery crack-like marks called Lichtenberg Figures that the electricity of the blast leaves on your skin.

A person can continue to look back making the choice to remain shattered or a person can look forward and create a beautiful future— something whole out of the broken pieces.

How Ms. McDonald wields the epoxy and gold dust for all of her various characters makes for valuable reading time well spent. I look forward to going back and reading her previous book, The Night Olivia Fell.

I also wish that I could get back some of the broken pottery and ceramics I have tossed away over the years!



 Christina McDonald is the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell, which has been optioned for television by a major Hollywood studio. She has worked for companies such as USA TODAY, The Sunday Times (Dublin), and Expedia. Originally from Seattle, Washington, she has an MA in Journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and now lives in London, England.


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Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.