Thursday, June 17, 2021

Lie Beside Me - Gytha Lodge

Lie Beside Me is the newest entry in Gytha Lodge's  DCI Jonah Sheens series. 

Lodge starts things off with a great premise...

"Louise wakes up. Her head aches, her mouth is dry, her memory is fuzzy—but she suspects she’s done something bad. She rolls over toward her husband, Niall. The man who, until recently, made her feel loved. But it’s not Niall lying beside her. In fact, she’s never seen this man before. And he’s not breathing. . . ."

This is a premise I've read before, but I'm always curious to see how an author puts their own spin on things

Lodge gives us a blackout drinker in Louise, who can't seem to remember anything of the night before. Truth or fiction? Louise is a fractured personality. She refers to herself as Drunk Louise and Sober Louise and prefers her drunken self. "I was aware, though, of a growing disconnect between Drunk Louise and me. I would occasionally be alarmed at things she'd done." Louise is married and her relationship with her husband Niall is disconnected as well. Her best friend April is hard to pin down - is she using Louise or does she truly care about her? She seems to enjoy bringing out the best - or the worst of Louise. Three very unlikable characters drive the plot forward. There are quite a few other peripheral players that are just as unpleasant.

These ugly characters are tempered by the police squad investing the murder. This is the third book to feature DCI Jonah Sheens and his team. Not having read the first two books wasn't an issue - this entry could easily be read as a stand alone.  Lodge has fleshed out her recurring characters well, giving them personal storylines that make them interesting. I was particularly intrigued by the enigmatic Ben Lightman.

I enjoy being kept guessing in a book, trying to suss out the whodunit with the clues the author lays out. Lodge did indeed keep me on my toes with lots of twists and turns. An epistolary element is added as Louise pens an ongoing letter to her husband, explaining things. I applaud Lodge's complex plotting. But...yes, there's a but. I'm going to be in the minority here - but by the run up to the final pages, I was growing weary of the deception and lies and just wanted a resolution.

Lie Beside Me was good, but not a stand out for me.  Check out the other reviews on Goodreads.

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