*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author and Hodder & Stoughton. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: We all tell lies, don’t we? Most of the time, they’re harmless. But every now and then, we lie without thinking about the consequences.
As a school nurse, Anna Pierce is a well-respected and trusted member of the community. So when she is accused of hitting a pupil, the reaction is one of shock and disbelief.
The pupil is Tori Carmichael – Anna’s mentee and a troubled child known for bending the truth.
With her career and reputation on the line, Anna is determined to clear her name. But before she can, the worst happens: Tori is found dead.
Suspicion mounts against Anna, who says she didn’t do it.
But if she isn’t the killer, there is someone out there who is . . .
A Lie For A Lie is a she said/she said psychological thriller, in which the word of a troubled teen goes up against that of a respected school nurse and family-woman. You’d think that would be an easy one to call, but when the accuser turns up dead under suspicious circumstances it stirs up secrets old and new, and one lie seems to lead inevitably to another until the truth seems impossible to find.
Anna is a tricky main character from the start. Her genuine shock and distress at Tori’s accusations seem to make the plot hook a non-starter, but then Tori’s death shifts the mystery from the abuse allegation to a murder investigation and everything is thrown into question. Is Anna’s home life and her professional career really as squeaky clean as she presents? If she’s such a wonderful, caring person, then why are the parents so quick to turn on her?
Because turn on her they do! One of the most terrifyingly plausible aspects of this thriller was the insight into how quickly the mob could form (online and at the school gates), isolate their prey, and begin circling with their gleeful speculation which rapidly morphs into death threats. We see this happen to celebrities online regularly, but Julie Corbin shows us how one accusation, one misstep, could cause the wolves to turn their wrath to a more ‘ordinary’ target.
There are other dark subjects here, obviously – it is a crime thriller! The story explores alcoholism, broken families, domestic abuse, bullying and self-harm, in addition to the main plot thread of alleged child assault and suspected murder. All of the issues raised are explored thoughtfully and sensitively, and with what feels like a real understanding of the effects on a child, a parent, a family, a community.
I found myself immersed in Anna’s nightmare as I read, completely gripped by the mysteries raised, but also by the speed with which her perfect world disintegrates around her, leaving her (and me) reeling. Seeded throughout Anna’s narrative are snippets and flashbacks of Tori’s viewpoint, giving the reader insight and information that the main character does not have access to, which helps ratchet the tension up a couple of notches higher.
After quite a slow, suspenseful story, I did find the big reveal a little bit abrupt and farfetched, but the action carried me through and when I diligently skimmed back to check for clues (everyone does this for mysteries, right?!) I was kicking myself at the hints I had missed as to what was really going on!
Anyone who likes a well-crafted, slow-burning psychological thriller – packed full of lies and secrets – will enjoy this exploration of how well we can ever really know anyone.
Owen sits back in his seat and gives an audible sigh. ‘Anna, there’s no easy way to say this.’ He clears his throat, clearly reluctant to voice the words. ‘Victoria has accused you of assault.’– Julie Corbin, A Lie For A Lie
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