Selfish? Clearly. Cruel? Hell, yes – Sharon Doering.
I love a good thriller and I love a good mystery. It makes the cogs in my brain turn, guessing at each chance I get. Every chapter and every page can provide an inconspicuous clue, one that I can find. Usually, I’ve either got the name of the murderer before the end, or they were high on my suspect list. And yet, I kept guessing with She Lies Close.
Sharon Doering’s debut novel follows recently separated mum-of-two Grace who lives next door to a suspect of missing child, Ava Boone. Leland is her neighbour, a creepy middle-aged man with a cat whose yellow eyes eventually haunt Grace, but not for the reasons you might expect. Grace isn’t sleeping. She’s barely holding it together, and then she gets scratched by a cluster of bats during her evening run whilst her eight and three-year-olds sleep soundly in their beds at home, alone. All kinds of red flags are pinging in your brain, aren’t they? That is just the beginning.
My relationship with this book was a rollercoaster. I’d be going up and up, ready for the next plot twist, but it wouldn’t arrive. I’d wait, trundling along until something happened. I put it down at one point during a dream sequence, playing into the author’s hands of what she probably wants her readers to think. Then, the middle twist hits and after that, I raced through it, like a downward spiral with loops and turns. If I could split the book into half, I’d say the second half is the thrilling, hair-raising book you need to read. It is a constant battle of what happened? Is what she believes true? It can’t be true, can it? There’s far more action and plot than the first half which was focused on building Grace as a character and her own psychoanalysis of her thoughts and her life.
Grace as a character is one that I have plenty of feelings about. I found her intriguing and honest; I find her perplexing and chaotic too. She clearly has forms of anxiety and insomnia – illnesses that keep her awake at night, scrolling the internet for answers to the questions that burn her brain all hours of the day. Her worried thoughts force her to act selfishly and cruelly by asking the family of the lost Ava Boone questions that she has no business asking. Her thoughts probe her to break into her neighbour’s house. They make her think she’s committed a crime. She does plenty of questionable things, but she does it to protect her children. That being said, I wish there was more backstory to her mental health. There are hints throughout the book of past incidents that reflect her mentality, but I feel like we never truly grasp her true state of mind despite having insight into multiple internal monologues.
What I enjoyed most was that she truly believed the worst in herself. She believed she was capable of a heinous crime. She believed she was capable of murder. And yet, she still carried on living her life. It makes you wonder about what is going through other people’s minds, about if they’ve committed a crime, told a lie, kept a huge secret. It makes you wonder that you don’t know people as well as you think you do. I think that’s a big theme threaded throughout the entire book, from the Boone family to Leland and Grace to the men in her life. Nobody truly knew what went on in their minds, behind closed doors, until, sometimes, it was too late.
The finale of the story was a bit of an epilogue-style. It was all too quick and too easy to solve the cases and tie the story up into a neat little bow. It felt rushed. I remember thinking as the pages were dwindling one by one (before the reveals), is this going to be a cliffhanger? Am I going to find out or will I always be wondering? The second reveal was one that I definitely did not see coming and one that I enjoyed, although I feel like if it was someone closer to the situation, say who we thought it was all along, I might have been even more shocked.
All in all, She Lies Close is a thriller that keeps you guessing, makes you dig further into one mother’s mind than you might want to and has plenty of pretty out there twists and turns.
Have you read She Lies Close? What are your thoughts?
Love, Faye xo
The book was gifted by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.