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Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

BOTTOM LINE: Disappointing and worthy of skipping entirely

Genre: Suspense & Thriller
Publication Date: 27 June 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.”

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved Ms. Kubica’s first novel. I even enjoyed her second novel, although hindsight has me thinking it was not as good as I said in my review. Her third novel was mediocre, and this latest novel is the weakest one yet. Every Last Lie suffers from trying to foster mystery where none exists with characters who are tedious.

There is a lot of potential within the novel. Clara is not only a grieving widow, but she is also three days postpartum. The psychological trauma of the accident compounded with the fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation brought about by a newborn should have been fascinating. In fact, in my opinion it should have been the heart of the novel. Unfortunately, Ms. Kubica skirts this area almost completely. I do believe the intent was there. She mentions Clara’s exhaustion often, hinting at an unreliability in her perception of events, but she never explores this area. Instead, we have a character who spends the novel lamenting her fate, finding fault where none exists, and continually jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Instead, Ms. Kubica focuses the story on Nick’s last days. We learn he has kept plenty of secrets from his beloved wife, and any one of them were enough to have gotten him killed. The problem is that Nick never becomes a fully-formed character. His love for his wife is so perfect, for lack of a better word, that it becomes too good to be true. This becomes important when we are forced to reconcile this amazing love with the secrets he keeps from the love of his life and his reasons for them. His excuses become the same sorry excuses men are forever espousing in novels about secrets, and he never moves beyond this one-dimensional character flaw. If anything, his professions of love for his wife are so extreme that they make this one flaw all the more perplexing. In trying to show that there is no such thing as an ideal husband, Ms. Kubica inadvertently creates discord between the Nick who adores his wife and child and Nick the businessman to the point where the two never mesh into one person.

I do think Ms. Kubica is a talented writer; she has published at least one decent novel and one excellent novel after all. Every Last Lie is just not a good example of her talent. There is so much she could have done with the psychology of Clara; it would have been a more difficult novel to write but would have yielded a more satisfactory story. By focusing on Nick’s side of the story, it is as if she chose the easy path, and even there she fails to execute the story in such a way that is engaging and believable. The obvious ignored potential is disappointing; the path she chose is even more so. Given the proliferation of thrillers these days, Ms. Kubica’s latest story does not live up to its competition.

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