The Truth Behind the Lie

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781250300072. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250300089. M
Kouplan is desperate to make ends meet in Stockholm, Sweden. The undocumented Iranian refugee risks everything by placing an ad. “Private detective. If the police can’t help, call me!” Pernilla calls immediately, saying her six-year-old daughter, Julia, is missing. She can’t go to the police, though. Kouplan is used to hiding from authorities, so, despite his own fear of the police, he returns to the scene where Julia disappeared and questions a number of people about the vanished girl. He fumbles through his first assignment as a private detective, learning on the job. But, as he studies Pernilla and looks for the missing Julia, something in Pernilla’s story doesn’t ring true. The suspenseful tale slowly unfolds through the eyes of Kouplan, Pernilla, and the vanished child. Each character reveals pieces of the truth, bit by bit, until the stunning final sentence turns readers’ beliefs upside down. ­
VERDICT Swedish author Lövestam’s (Wonderful Feels Like This) pitch-perfect book is a character study of two needy people who find unusual strength in each other, despite their secrets. Readers who appreciate complex Nordic mysteries that unfold ­carefully will ­appreciate the twists in this story. [See ­Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]

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