The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain

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The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A book you'll need to relax into as there's a strong chance you'll wonder quite how you've got to where you are. Don't worry - it's Jo Spain, so you're in safe hands. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: May 2021
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529407242

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It was July 2019 and Erin was happy. She and Danny Ryan were planning a few days away: that's always a dangerous thing to do when you're married to a cop but she was hopeful. They'd been married for six months and life was good with a decent apartment by the sea in Newport, Long Island. The knock on the door was insistent and when it was opened, Danny's partner, Ben Mitchell was there with a couple of other officers. Danny took one look, turned, walked to the open window and jumped to his death from the fourth floor.

Eighteen months later, Erin would be on trial for her husband's murder.

I'll begin with a warning: you're frequently going to wonder if you've missed a chapter out. You'll find yourself checking page numbers, just chance they've got mixed up. You haven't and they haven't. You're reading a story that moves back and forth between what happened then and what is happening now: disregard the fact that you can't connect the two, can't make sense of the two scenarios. Relax: this is Jo Spain and you're in safe hands. All will be revealed and it will make perfect sense.

Right after Danny's death, Erin was understandably in shock: not only was Danny dead, no one from the police force had made any attempt to contact her, to see that she was OK. Where was all the famous 'cops are just one big family and they look after their own'? It certainly wasn't happening to Erin. When she manages to get in touch with Ben Mitchell she discovers that Danny was under investigation: she'll learn various other things too. He'd been seeing a psychiatrist and he had quite a bit of unexplained money. He wasn't the man she thought she'd married.

The wisest thing she does is get in touch with an attorney: Karla Delgardo moved to Patchogue for a quieter life. It's about to get rather a lot less quiet! Erin's only support once her sister has returned home (her parents are back in Ireland: they don't fly) is Karla, as well as Bud from the bar she and Danny used to frequent and Cal Hawley. Cal and Erin have made a strange connection: before she left Ireland, Erin lost her youngest sister, Niamh, when she was raped and murdered. Cal had a step-sister, Lauren Gregory who was similarly attacked and later took her own life. Lauren made quite an impression - her proctor at Harvard, Ally Summers, has never got over Lauren's death and feels that she was only one of a number of people who let Lauren down badly.

The plotting is superb. I simply had to keep turning the pages to find out what had happened. You really feel for Erin: none of this is her fault but she's having to fight every step of the way when what she really needs to do is grieve for the husband she's lost. Instead, she has to turn detective. Was Danny a bad cop? She's coming to the conclusion that he was flawed and that she didn't really know him - but was he corrupt? There's a jaw-dropping twist at the end which I simply didn't see coming I'd been completely fooled!

What I really liked is that there are no obvious baddies among the main characters. You might have your doubts about Danny but he doesn't come across as anything more than flawed human. Ben Mitchell might have come to the apartment to arrest Danny but the more you read, the more you realise just how conflicted he was. You're relieved that Erin has decent people like Karla, Bud and Cal Hawley in her corner.

It was a cracker of a book and it's one to read to find out who did it - and then to reread to find out how the author did it. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For another standalone novel from Jo Spain, try Six Wicked Reasons. We also love Spain'sInspector Tom Reynolds novels.

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