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Dear Amy

Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan

51VFfTURZKL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_When Sophia returns to her family home, she is not prepared for the sight that greets her. In the garden, she finds her mother hanging from a tree and her father, close to death in a pool of blood. As far as the police are concerned, it is an open and shut case of attempted murder-suicide but Sophia is not convinced. When a few strange things start to happen, she begins to feel that there is someone watching her, leaving her to wonder just exactly what the circumstances are behind this terrible tragedy.

I loved Helen Callaghan’s previous book, Dear Amy, so was thrilled to have the opportunity to read¬†Everything is Lies pre-publication. I was expecting something in a similar vein for the follow-up but Everything is Lies is completely different to what I was expecting although equally gripping. From the blurb, I envisaged a whodunnit with intrigue but from the moment we are introduced to the notebooks left by Sophia’s mum, detailing her younger life spent in an infamous cult, I knew that this story was going to go in a completely different direction.

At first, I was not totally enamoured with the notebook sections as I was desperate to know more about the investigation into the death of Sophia’s mum. I was soon drawn in, however, after realising that these notebooks would give the background knowledge to understand exactly what had occurred. I could imagine how difficult it was for Sophia, trying to visualise her quiet, neurotic mum as this free-willed young woman as portrayed in the notebooks. I think that deep down, Nina (Sophia’s mum) knew that there was more to this cult than met the eye, but the draw and excitement was too much for her to walk away from, even when the alarm bells began to ring for her.

The cult scenes were well-written, Helen Callaghan showing how easy it is for an impressionable young woman to be swept along with the whole situation. From the outside, looking in, it was apparent how self-centred and obnoxious the cult leader was, and I was willing Nina to come to her senses before tragedy struck. The other members of the cult were equally unlikeable but, in spite of this, the author manages to keep you reading, wanting to know more.

In the present day, as well as trying to find out the true cause of her mother’s death, Sophia is struggling with her own personal and work life after several incidents at the firm where she works. When her work appeared to be sabotaged, this added to the general unease she was already feeling. Was it related to her aborted assignation with a colleague or is it linked to the notebooks that her mother was seeking to publish? I got to the point where the only person I felt I could trust was Sophia herself as I tried to figure out exactly who was to blame for the numerous mysterious occurrences.

As the book progressed, I did have an inkling as to what the outcome would be with regards to one part of the plot and I was pleased to find I’d worked it out! My theory helped to add to the general unease I felt throughout the book as Helen Callaghan delivered more and more intriguing problems.¬†Everything is Lies is definitely one to be watching out for in 2018!

With thanks to Penguin UK -Michael Joseph and Net Galley for my ARC.



Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

In her capacity as local newspaper agony aunt, Cambridge teacher Margot Lewis is used to receiving  distressing letters. None of them, however, shake her quite like the latest one:

Dear Amy,

I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me. Please help me soon,

Bethan Avery.

What makes this even more disturbing is that Bethan Avery has been missing, presumed dead for many years. Coupled with the fact that another local girl has disappeared, Margot finds herself caught up in a mystery that threatens her own life.

From the first chapter, I was hooked on this fast-paced psychological thriller. The author has succeeded in writing an opening that grabs you straight away and makes you want to read just one more chapter… As the book progressed, I found it hard to put down and managed to read it in two marathon sessions!

Like all books in this genre, there is, of course, a twist. There is a real ‘open mouth’ moment when you realise what it is – I had thought that it was going to be something else so was pleased to discover that I was wrong.

Although this could definitely be seen as a standalone book, there is definitely more scope for a series of books featuring the ‘Dear Amy’ column.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Thank you to Penguin UK and NetGalley for the advance copy.

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