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Book Cover Stevie‘s review of Everything Is Lies by Helen Callaghan
Crime Fiction published by Penguin 22 Feb 18

When I read the blurb for this book, I was expecting a Young Adult or New Adult novel; however, the protagonist is a little older than either demographic, although the theme of discovering your parents aren’t as you’d always imagined definitely fits the broad theme for those genres. There’s another theme running through the book too, although I’ll come to that later.

Sophia’s life of working hard and partying harder in London is very different to her former-hippy parents’ quiet existence in Suffolk, still running the garden centre cum tearooms where Sophia grew up. Returning home early from a night out – alone, after the colleague who made a pass at her turned out to be married – Sophia receives a strange phone call from her mother, begging her to return home immediately. Although she initially dismisses the call as one of her mother’s regular bouts of anxiety about the supposed dangers of London in general and Brixton where Sophia lives in particular, Sophia nevertheless decides to pay an impromptu visit to her parents the next morning.

Sophia arrives at the garden centre early, but is surprised to find that it has not yet opened to the public, and her concern grows when the house also seems to be empty. To her horror, she eventually finds her mother dead in the garden – hanging from a string of fairy lights – with her father close by – and close to death – suffering from stab wounds inflicted by a pair of scissors. The police take one look at the scene and decide that Sophia’s mother has attempted to murder her partner and then killed herself; Sophia, however, is certain that someone else tried to kill them both, especially after she discovers that her mother had written a memoir, which has already been sold to a reputable publisher. The manuscript of the book is initially nowhere to be found, and when Sophia finally tracks down the first two volumes out of three, she becomes more convinced than ever that her mother was murdered.

Sophia’s mother had hoped to escape her controlling, highly judgemental parents, when she was awarded a place at St Edith’s College, Cambridge; however, her new friends soon introduce her to someone who turns out to be just as controlling, although far more charismatic – and a former rock star to boot. Drawn into a New Age cult, Sophia’s mother at first enjoys her new life, but soon realises that the cult’s leader is financing his hedonistic lifestyle by recruiting wealthy young members then persuading them to turn over everything to him.

Investigating further, Sophia discovers that the cult leader has reinvented himself yet again, and wonders if he was responsible for her mother’s death in an attempt to prevent publication of the book. Her search for the truth leads her into every increasing danger from a variety of enemies, but she is unprepared for the revelations the third volume will bring – or the identity of her mother’s killer.

I loved the twists and turns of this story. I had an idea who the killer was before Sophia worked it out, and had half solved some of the other mysteries, but the climax of the big reveal still came as something of a surprise. I also enjoyed the book’s other overarching theme – that of cults and how our personal and business relationships can also draw us into situations that we would never otherwise contemplate being a part of.

I definitely want to go back and read the author’s other books now.

Stevies CatGrade: A



Can you trust anyone?

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Has everyone got something to hide?

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

What if the person lying to you is the one closest to you?

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

No one is who you think they are.

Everyone has secrets.

Especially those closest to you.

No excerpt available.