This week we’re looking at a dark and twisted tale of cold case decades old – and the best friend that both discovered the body and is now tasked with solving the case. This week, we’re looking at This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf.
This is yet another of those vague Midwestern mysteries that seem to be so popular over the last several years, but it actually has one particular feature that is among the best I’ve seen using it:
It opens with the murder scene that will ultimately drive the book, but then it comes back to that scene in the closing pages. In the opening, the reader gets scant details, mostly that the victim is running, falls, and is murdered. But then we get back to that scene – via repeated flashbacks building to it throughout the book – and when we get the details of who and why… well, there are reasons this is in the closing pages of the book. 🙂
That noted, its similarities to *so many other* books cannot go unmentioned. The vague Midwestern town with some minor distinguishing feature. (In this case, caves.) The small town mystery. (Ok, that one is kind of a given.) The misdirections that are standard fare for the genre. Even down to the overall tone of the book. But really, the most striking and one I personally wish would just end already, is the dang cover. Blue background (particularly some form of stairs) with yellow (sometimes white, though in this case orange) text, and even seemingly in the same or very similar font and size. How many books are going to have nearly identical covers before this “trend” goes away! Whoever is designing these covers, PLEASE STOP!
But don’t get me wrong about how similar this is to others of its type – this really is an excellent book with several narrative choices that are atypical in my experience, and thus to be applauded. It gives yet another look from yet another angle at #MeToo, including choices faced by women throughout history (and indeed, these scenes are mostly grounded in the action decades earlier that led to the murder). It uses multiple perspectives, rather than just two as is more normal, and shows how the events of both past and present transpire through these multiple perspectives. And it seemingly resolves everything… with over a third of the book yet left to play out!
So rant about the cover in particular aside, this really is an excellent book. Fans of the genre will definitely enjoy it, but even if you’ve somehow never encountered this type of story, it really is solidly written and told and deserves your attention. Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Dark and Twisted. This book is actually one of the better ones I’ve encountered of late for using a particular scene as a prologue… and then coming back to that very scene late in the book (within the last 30 pages or so, actually) and showing how it *actually* went down. Yes, that means that this book has surprises almost until literally the last page. Several interesting storytelling techniques at play here, and touching on several issues within the zeitgeist of the last few years. Very much recommended.