Posted in Books I have read

Little Black Lies – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction

This book tells the tale of how the friendship between Carin and Rachel turned ugly the day Rachel was responsible for the death of Carin’s young sons. Both women had given birth to two boys of similar ages and the two women continued their friendship which had started when they were both eleven.

The book starts in the run up to the third anniversary of the boy’s deaths. In the shocking opening we learn that Carin, a marine conservation officer, has been devastated by her grief and harbours ideas of revenge against Rachel. She is questioning if she is capable of killing, convinced that in the right circumstances, everybody is. The novel is set over five days and is quite slow to get going but when it does, well it was a case of hang onto your seat and try to keep up with the revelations that spill from the pages.

The story is set in the Falklands, in 1994, twelve years after the war and one of our three narrators is Callum, a former soldier who saw appalling scenes during the conflict. The author doesn’t spare us this horror as Callum suffers with PSD and relives some of those wartime events during his narration. Sharon Bolton does an amazing job of bringing to life this large land mass populated by a small number of people, rarely have I been able to visualise a place I have never visited and never so unobtrusively as the bleak landscape with a wide variety of wildlife is cleverly woven into the plot. The Falklands in Little Black Lies are bleak with more than a whiff of claustrophobia about it with the whole population knowing everyone’s business. The mixture of secret desires being held in this small-town setting is incredibly powerful, because however much people think they know, they can’t know everything, they can’t see another’s thoughts.

Each of the three narrators, Carin, Callum and Rachel narrate their portion in one hit, each covering the same timescale. While I felt sympathy for Carin she is so damaged she comes across as quite a remote character and you can’t help but wonder what she is capable of, especially when there is a disaster and she is forced to make a difficult choice. Callum is far nicer, in some ways too nice and it is through his eyes that we see a different side to Carin. Rachel has been forever marked as the woman who killed two children, she’s removed herself from life through the use of sleeping pills.

As if our characters didn’t all have enough going on in their lives, a young boy goes missing and all the islanders are out searching for him. With visitors from a visiting cruise ship to swell the numbers the local police organise search parties and attempt to quell the inevitable comparison to two other boys that have gone missing over the last couple of years.

This is a tense novel that accurately portrays the nature of grief, small-town life, difficult choices and rejection. In the hands of such a gifted writer the dark emotions are powerful and intense. The plot has been well-thought out although I feel that the structure was responsible for the slow start to the novel, it was cleverly used to add layers to both the plot and the characters, as we cover the same time period from different perspectives. This is quite unlike the Lacey Flint series, being far darker, and firmly marks Sharon Bolton out as an author who is a master story-teller.

I’d like to say thank you to the publishers, Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy ahead of the publication date of 2 July 2015.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

36 thoughts on “Little Black Lies – Sharon Bolton

  1. I really like the sound of this. It sounds quite complex and involving. I’m not keen on the Lacey Flint series but I have read at least one other Sharon Bolton book (possibly two but my memory fails) that I really liked. One for the list.


  2. I really like the setting in this one, Cleo. There isn’t much crime fiction from (about) the Falklands, and it sounds as though this has a solid sense of setting. Intriguing premise, too!


    1. I think this is the first book I’ve read set here and the author really did an amazing job of painting the scene. It is a difficult premise and sometimes the raw emotions were hard to read about but it is a fascinating tale, well told.


  3. I’m looking forward to reading this one. Have heard from another blogger that she felt it is Sharon Bolton’s best book. It seems that it certainly has some interesting points and I love the fact that the setting will take me to an area that I know so little about. Very nice review, Cleo!


  4. I’d heard about the book but somehow missed the fact that it was set in the Falklands, which must add to the sense of claustrophobia and tension. Very intriguing!


  5. This does sound good, and I am so pleased that Sharon Bolton had written a stand-alone book. I loved the ones that I read a few years ago, but the Lacey Flint books – apart from the first and maybe the second – disappointed me.


    1. I am a fan of Sharon Bolton’s having started with Blood Harvest. I do like the Lacey Flint books but this was something quite different and far more complex, both in structure and range of emotions.


  6. Hmm… I shall be reading this soon, so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it. Personally I’m not at all convinced it’s my kind of thing, but I agree that Sharon Bolton is a great writer and really good at creating a sense of place. Here’s hoping…


  7. I read another book with the same title, but luckily, they are nothing alike, so it would not be confusing to read this one. So many issues, so much sadness…I could sink into this one. Thanks!


    1. It is definitely a book completely full of issues. I’m glad it is nothing like the other Little Black Lies, what are the chances of two books being published so close to each other with the same title?


  8. This sounds pretty cool. I like that there are a couple of different things going on and I like that the grief is more than the weeping willow sort, but instead one where revenge is a possibility. Interesting take. Thank you for your review.


  9. The Lacey Flint books are not my favourites of her books. I have enjoyed her stand-alones more, especially Blood Harvest, and Awakenings. I’ll be on the hunt for this one.


  10. Sounds like a different kind of crime novel. I have only read another book by Sharon Bolton, and she is terrific at describing dark, twisted emotions. I’m glad you liked the book so much, it proves she just gets better!


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