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The Lies I Told


The Lies I Told

Somewhat in the vein of the 1990 film Ghost, THE LIES I TOLD would have us believe that “[t]he dead were always watching. And they did speak to us, though we rarely noticed.”

As a teen 13 years ago, Marisa Stockton’s twin was murdered. Clare still speaks to her and lures her to Richmond’s James River, where the body was found. Marisa is now a photographer and captures images of trees and boulders at the homicide scene, hoping that Clare will “speak” to her through the photos.

Older sister Brit had become their de facto (and overbearing) mom after their biological mother’s suicide a few years earlier. Marisa was a wild child, Clare less so. “M” wore Goth-grunge garb. Occasionally they swapped attire --- and personas. It was fun to fool friends. Who was whom?

"Burton’s intriguing suspense novel puts readers in a quandary of interpreting reality from illusion."

One twin, dressed as the other, attended a New Year’s party. The other used it as a cover for a night of debauchery: booze, drugs, sex. The party attendee left early, but who can recall if she was with anyone?

Burton dangles psych carrots to lure readers instead of red herrings. Chapter headings designate that person’s viewpoint: the mysterious “Him,” Marisa, Brit and Richards. Homicide Detective John Richards plants a seed when he opines that the killer may have been after Marisa, not Clare. Brit has moved on, accepting her younger sister’s dire death and the other’s languid life. Brit is now a successful attorney in control of her own life. She had met David Wellbourne six weeks ago, and they “were still in the can’t-keep-hands-off-each-other phase.” He has moved into Brit’s suburban home with its manicured lawn.

Early in the current year, Marisa nearly died in a single-vehicle accident, but her cerebral inflammation was eased by surgery. She lost 10 days and can’t recall events leading to or after the crash. But disturbing images of headlights and certain senses trigger anxiety attacks. She had joined AA before the accident and has been sober for a year. Does Marisa’s guilt and substance abuse abstinence cause Clare to call out from the grave? “A rational mind wouldn’t be lured by the dead or revisit a dangerous past.”

Haunting dreams of Clare and their misspent youth, and nightmares of the crash, converge in a surreal Dalí-like tapestry. Is Marisa closing in on the killer, or is “Him” tightening the noose on her? Burton’s intriguing suspense novel puts readers in a quandary of interpreting reality from illusion.

For COVER YOUR EYES, Bookreporter dubbed New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton the Contemporary Queen of Romantic Suspense. Transitioning to psychological suspense, Burton is now the Monarch of Suspense, which includes all facets of the genre.

Burton has published 37 novels plus five novellas, and nine contemporary fiction books as Mary Ellen Taylor. Having won the 2019 Montlake Romance Diamond Award signifies that she reached one million readers. Formerly from Richmond, she now shares life with her husband in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

» Click here to read our interview with Mary Burton.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on August 19, 2022

The Lies I Told
by Mary Burton