Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match, and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it—a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.
Michael J. Malone ventures into the dark, insidious side of relationships in A Suitable Lie. The tale is a domestic noir, told from the perspective of the victim, but it’s less of a psychological thriller and more of a harrowing glimpse into the psychology of an abuse victim.
The first half of the book was gripping. The tension built continually as the danger escalated and the beautiful, mysterious Anna becomes more and more unhinged and violent. The prologue was perfect, drawing the reader in and setting the haunting tone from the very first pages. The characters are authentic. Andy is an everyday man, a relatable, sympathetic protagonist, and the emotions of his character—the denial, the excuses, the self-blame—are authentic and wrenching. Anna is a chilling character with a backstory that is all too common in abusers. The first half of the book’s plot was taut and riveting, the reader placed in the uncomfortable position of knowing what’s unfolding even as the protagonist is largely in the dark. The second half of the story, though, fell flat. The read became tedious; the abuse became repetitive; the subplot took away from the central plot; and the ending was anti-climactic, lacking in suspense and surprise, with several loose ends left dangling.
While the second part of the story took a disappointing turn, A Suitable Lie began as a compelling, harrowing read with an excellent build of suspense, authentic characters, and an uneasy, growing awareness of the dangers lurking just on the other side of the bed.
Recommended for those who enjoy domestic noir, with the caveat that the second half does not equal the first in tautness and suspense, or therefore, enjoyment