Review: The Lies They Tell by Gillian French

Quick review for a read that I finished quickly, but felt a little like a slog in places. I probably should have opted to read “Grit” before “The Lies They Tell” because I had more investment in the premise of the former than the latter. Somehow I got my hands on this one and I couldn’t stop until I finished it. That’s not to say that the experience of “The Lies They Tell” was a compelling one. I wanted to know what happened…and while I got that, it didn’t feel very satisfying upon finishing the book.

There are some mysteries where you know what’s going to happen and who the villain turns out to be from very early on in the story. However, such stories still manage to thrill you for the journey the story takes you on and seeing how the pieces fit together. This is not one of those books. The bare bones of the mystery is compelling, some of the characters definitely have interesting backgrounds and conflicts, but the overarching narration of this plodded for much longer than it should have. The prologue showing the fire and the family that died was tragic enough, yet it took a while for the story to get going. This isn’t to knock Pearl’s point of view (told in third person), whom I did end up caring for throughout the story. Her overarching story was worth following as well – between the conflict with her father/family, her changing personal relationships, even trying to understand who might’ve actually done the crime to get the blame of the town off her father’s back.

None of excuses that you literally can guess the villain from the first few chapters of this book. And if it isn’t obvious then, the creepy cave-dwelling sequence makes it really obvious (I will admit that was one of my favorite scenes in this novel, so I’m not knocking that, but seriously, you can guess the villain then.) And none of it excuses the rather lazy way that the final act of this book came together and how Pearl figures it out. (Really? So that set up was basically a way to make a Lifetime movie worthy action sequence at like the 97% mark of the novel? There were scenes that foreshadowed that eventual encounter, but still. Arggggggh.)

I wanted to love this book much more than I did, especially since I’m a big fan of YA mysteries (and mysteries in general). There were parts of it I did like, including the audiobook narration by Caitlin Davies. It gets a solid 3 stars from me, but it’s not a book I would re-read after going through it the first time through.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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