Little Black Lies
Minotaur Books, April 2016
ISBN: 978- 1-250-08067-7
From the publisher:The remote Falkland Islands serve as the setting for Sharon Bolton’s chilling new standalone novel. When a young boy visiting the islands with his family goes missing, a sense of dread settles on the isolated, tight-knit community. It’s the third young child to go missing in as many years. While the previous two were assumed to be accidents, the third disappearance sends an ominous message to everyone on the islands: A killer may be living among them: “The chances of three boys between the ages of seven and three disappearing in three years” cannot explained by coincidence.
The first of three points of view in this novel is that of Catrin Quinn, a marine biologist who has her own form of PTSD after the accidental death of her two sons three years ago, the result of the utter carelessness of her childhood best friend, Rachel, and the ensuing years have seen her emotions go from grief to a determination to seek revenge in an as-yet undetermined way. The events described take place over the space of several days, the most fraught of those on November 3, 1994, when a solar eclipse occurred (although not at the precise time of day that it actually happened, we are told in an author’s note). As the book opens, it is approaching the third anniversary of Catrin’s boys’ deaths, a date of which all and sundry are well aware.
The second p.o.v. is that of former Second Lieutenant Callum Murray, who first came to the Falklands during the 1982 UK war with Argentina in its 74 days of occupation, still suffering from the more severe sort of PTSD resulting in severe panic attacks and flashbacks as a result of that horrific time. And the third and final p.o.v. is that of Rachel, the aforementioned best friend of Catrin, who describes herself as “something of a ghoul on the islands. No one looks at me and doesn’t think: woman who killed two kids.”
The Falklands are described thusly: “When you’re hundreds of miles away from the rest of the world, when news from outside is always too little, too late, then the world you inhabit, however small and sparsely populated, assumes a terrific importance. In the Falkland Islands, everybody knows everybody else’s business.” There is infidelity and jealousy and suspense aplenty here. The gorgeous writing is particularly vivid in glorious descriptions of the islands and their natural beauty. There is a lot of death in these pages, both the human and animal variety. But the twists and shocking turns of events, and the suspense as the three narrators converge in the local constabulary in the final pages, are well worth reading, and the novel is definitely recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, April 2016.