We Lie Here

Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Jul. 2022. 416p. ISBN 9781662500329. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781542033695. $15.95. SUSPENSE
Hall (Detective Elouise Norton series; These Toxic Things) digs deep into family relations in her latest. L.A.-based TV writer Yara Gibson is trying to make things right with her domineering mother and passive father by taking time off and heading to her desert hometown to stage a 20th anniversary party for them. Her unruly younger sister isn’t much help, and her mother rules the family with her volatile moods. She manipulates Yara, who’s asthmatic, into giving up her hotel room and staying at the family’s smoke-filled home—but not before Yara is confronted by a relative who claims she has info that will “change her life.” Unfortunately, the relative is killed before she can share the info, and soon Yara is chasing clues while arranging a big blow-out party that nobody seems that excited about attending. Wheezing and gasping, misplacing her inhaler and other important items, Yara gets herself locked in, knocked out, chased by shadowy characters, even suspected of murder by the local police.
VERDICT Hall conveys the racist atmosphere of a small town and writes knowingly of extreme family dysfunction, but the meandering narrative, self-gaslighting protagonist, and several plot holes weaken the story.
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