Big Lies in a Small Town

Big Lies in a Small Town is typical Diane Chamberlain; the kind of typical you always enjoy from her.
Morgan is serving time because of a drunk driving accident that left a young woman injured. But, surprisingly, she finds herself out after serving her minimum sentence. There is a caveat: she is being released to do work on an old mural as part of her parole. The mural is old and nasty, but she must restore it before the gallery opens in just a few short months. Morgan must learn painting restoration while being distracted by the story of the artist Anna Dale who, who according to the townfolk, went crazy and disappeared.
As usual, the author gives readers a story they can take to their hearts. The female51b5l6oQQdL._SY346_ protagonists are quickly accepted and loved, and you just want to see happiness with in their tragedies. Morgan is no exception. Big Lies is a double whammy; you latch onto to Anna Dale as well as Morgan as the book switches between present and past. Your heart is doubly torn apart as both women share center stage.
Chamberlain is queen of emotional twists. While I called one, I did not see the other coming and that delights me. Chamberlain always has at least one present for the reader. A present that moves you and causes you to see the characters in a different light.
There are a few small issues. The townsfolks claim not to know what happened to Anan Dale as if she just disappeared but there is no way the historians of the town missed the articles of the events that caused her disappearance. No one would have just said that was just her going crazy. The second issue is my own. The book ends and I needed to know what happened to Morgan. Chamberlain implies with this ending that it doesn’t matter, but it does to me. I have come to love Morgan and I feel a need to know exactly what happens to her.
Big Lies returns to the more traditional set up of Chamberlain (that’s not to say The Dream Daughter wasn’t amazing; it was, in fact, superb). This novel is women’s fiction at its height looking into the things women face and how we have to deal with them.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Beautiful Bad

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Beautiful Bad goes for the shock value mimicking the twists other books have done better.

Maddie needs a therapist. She is having issues with anxiety as well as the fallout after a major physical trauma. She relates to her therapist about losing her best friend years ago and the issues with her husband and her profound fear for her son. It’s time to do something, but what?

Beautiful Bad focuses on three perspectives: a cop the day of a murder, Maddie as she gets therapy and Maddie telling her past. The first two perspectives are intriguing pushing me to want to know more. The past though is uninspired and takes me out of the pacing of the first two perspectives. These chapters are painfully boring; we get it, Ian is crazy, Maddie is a bad friend and lets Ian run her life. Too much time is spent in the past than what is actually going on in the plot.

By the time we get to the present and the twist, I am uninterested in the characters other than Jo.  I didn’t predict the twist but I wasn’t surprised at all; I’ve seen similar plots written better.

The book tries to play with the idea of head trauma and how it changes personalities, but the novel spends so little time on it, that it’s really just an excuse instead of thoughtful insight.

Here’s what I liked about the book: I loved the therapist sections. I love the writing therapy; Annie Ward put a lot of effort into that making both scenarios that are playing out fit in the story. These sections were beautifully done and this is what kept me compelled to know what would happen. Ward has a lot of potentials and looks forward to seeing how her work grows.

Sometimes riveting, sometimes boring Beautiful Bad is an uneven novel of suspense.

 

Publication Date: March 5

I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.