(Image from Barnes & Noble)
It's easy to feel isolated in a place as rugged and remote as the Falkland Islands. An archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, the area is home to more birds than people. And yet, when a Falklander goes missing, the loss is felt keenly by the residents of the islands' close-knit communities. When the individual is a child—the third to disappear in as many years—it's more than a tragedy. It's an indication that a serial killer may be lurking nearby, hunting for young boys.
Still reeling after the accidental death of her own sons three years ago, Catrin Quinn has cut herself off from the people in her town. A recluse, she ventures out only to care for the wildlife protected by the Falkland Conservation, the organization for which she works. Bitter and angry, the 34-year-old lets only one person come anywhere near her heart—her ex-lover, Callum Murray. She refuses to engage or trust anyone else. People will only let you down; Catrin's learned that lesson in the most traumatic way possible.
When a 3-year-old boy disappears while picnicking with his family in Stanley, Catrin is as heartsick as anyone else. In such a dangerous landscape, the child could easily have drowned. Only, it looks as if something much more sinister has happened. Suspicion falls on Catrin, whose grief—most would agree—has certainly driven her crazy enough to kidnap a toddler. The recluse harbors secrets, it's true, but she knows she had nothing to do with the boys' disappearances. Doesn't she?
As Catrin struggles to come to grips with her own impending madness, she becomes obsessed with finding the missing children. Callum and Catrin's former best friend, Rachel Grimwood, are hiding as many secrets as Catrin. As the search continues for a missing boy, both will have to confront their own pain and unseen suffering. Hidden deep in their broken souls, one of the three—perhaps all of the three—holds the key to finding young Archie West. Can they pull the truth out of their damaged psyches in time to save an innocent child? Or will he become the third victim of a ruthless, unknown killer stalking children in the beautiful but deadly Falklands?
I'd never heard of English crime writer Sharon Bolton (formerly S.J. Bolton) before picking up her 8th novel, Little Black Lies, back in March. Except for her newest book, which hasn't come out in the U.S. yet, I've now read everything she's ever published. That should tell you something about how mesmerizing I found Little Black Lies. From the beginning, the story grabbed me, pulling me into the bleak but utterly compelling world of Catrin Quinn. The Falklands make a stunning and intriguing backdrop to the tale, adding a gothic element to an already otherworldly setting. Its treacherous isolation makes the novel even more eerie and suspenseful. Add in complex characters; solid writing; and a twisty, brilliantly-plotted mystery; voilá, I was hooked from the first page to the last. This book kept me guessing—not just until the last chapter but until the very last sentence. If you like a good mystery/suspense, you can't go wrong with Sharon Bolton. Although Little Black Lies is my favorite of hers, all of her novels have sucked me in and kept me up reading way, way, way past my bedtime. She's that good.
(Readalikes: Reminds me a little of the Shetland mystery series by Ann Cleeves)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (a dozen or so F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content
To the FTC, with love: Another library