LIE STILL by Julia Heaberlin

 In Book Reviews, Mystery/Horror/Crime

Lie Still BookLIE STILL

Author: Julia Heaberlin
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Genre: Adult Mystery
Format: ARC (Received copy for an honest review)
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 18


Contains No Spoilers

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OVERALL THOUGHTS: This book is heavy. From the very first chapter the tone is set and although there is a sheath of humor and some tenderness smattered throughout, it is the underlying message of pain that hit me hard. Date rape or acquaintance rape is the overall theme of this darkly humorous mystery and the author displays a systemic flaw in the way victims are treated by interweaving intense stories and hysterical caricatures of the Southern elite through the main whodunit. Her characters are multidimensional and this Southern tale was as big as a pageant girls up do. Did I love it? Absolutely and I encourage you to check out this smart, well-written, chilling novel.

[note color=”#d8c5ca”]SYNOPSIS:When Emily Page and her husband move from Manhattan to the wealthy enclave of Clairmont, Texas, she hopes she can finally escape her haunted past—and outrun the nameless stalker who has been taunting her for years. Pregnant with her first child, Emily just wants to start over. But as she is drawn into a nest of secretive Texas women—and into the unnerving company of their queen, Caroline Warwick—Emily finds that acceptance is a very dangerous game.

It isn’t long before Caroline mysteriously disappears and Emily is facing a rash of anonymous threats. Are they linked to the missing Caroline? Or to Emily’s terrifying encounter in college, years earlier? As the dark truth about Caroline emerges, Emily realizes that some secrets are impossible to hide—and that whoever came for Caroline is now coming for her.[/note]

THE LOWDOWN: If you have been reading my articles, you know that I have altered my reading from New Adult/Contemporary Romance to mystery. Not only because I was desperately in need of reading something of substance, but because this genre has always been my choice theme. I just lost sight of what I love for a bit… but nothing like a stale formula to send a reader crashing into another genre entirely. I have, temporarily at least, been given a reprieve from alpha male smut. (Don’t worry folks, my next review is about a billionaire and his pseudo concubine.) One of the wonderful advantages to returning to adult fiction is the writing and the prose like words that send me careening full force into another world. The kind of sentences that elicit powerful emotions. That was my solace while reading Lie Still. It was drafted with the kind of writing only a really gifted author can muddle together. Her words had me laughing during inappropriate moments, but it was wonderful because the wacky characters in this book were incredibly inapposite. She also formulated a very vivid world with interwoven subplots that had me guessing until the very last page.

Heaberlin’s protagonist was such a pleasure to read, even with such a dark backdrop. She was strong, yet vulnerable as she found herself knee deep in the disappearance of a new acquaintance. Soon after moving from the sophisticated circles of New York’s artsy-fartsy elite to the hair sprayed, gossipy nouveau-riche of Texas, this protagonist uncovers  some very lurid secrets about the circle of women around her and is drawn into several dangerous situations that put her high risk pregnancy and her own life at risk. Her character was thick-skinned and married to a very macho man (whom I loved!) but she was also marred by a tragedy that dictated much of her reaction to the new and bizarre world she reluctantly became a part of. She made some very questionable decisions, but it fit her character perfectly and for a day and a half I felt like her sidekick as she felt her way through a macabre web of chilling deception. The trouble she gets herself into and her inability to tell the truth made me want to hate her, but deep down I understood her need to protect her deepest darkest secrets. I felt true empathy for this woman and her story resonated with me well after I finished.

One of the best things about this book is the peripheral characters. The women of Texas who have money to spend and scandalous secrets they vow to never repeat, but do any chance they get. The sky-high hair, the velour sweat pants, the rhinestone studded everything and the backstabbing make this story juicier than The Real Housewives and Melrose Place put together. In fact, the entire story is based on secrets. Secrets that tear apart lives, marriages and eventually lead to murder. It was TMZ meets Miss USA pageant. And what was refreshing was the author made fun of these caricatures of Southern snots, but she also showed the humor and comfort in being a part of a small community. It was a nice balance.

What I didn’t like, or rather, what I found a bit hard to follow were the amount of characters and keeping up with some of the names. It was daunting, but nothing that wasn’t figured out shortly after the questions came up. I also found it slightly slow in some parts, but I just skipped a paragraph or two and once again became engrossed in the thickening plot once again. As I mentioned before, the relationship between the protagonist and her husband was tender, but he was also a lawman with a bone to pick and a no-nonsense attitude so the family dynamic was sweet, but also real. There were moments when I worried for their future. All tell-tale signs of a deeply thought out and fleshed out story.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A mystery – country style – with lying, cheating, distrustful, backstabbing, frightening events that have you hanging on until the very last page. Would I recommend it – without a doubt.

Sara O'Connor
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