The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain (Review by Jasmin Webb)

4 min read

Rating 4.5 ⭐

Trigger warning this book includes talk of suicide, assault and rape.

Erin is on trial for the murder of her husband. However, this isn’t as cut and dry as it sounds as we know Erin’s husband Danny killed himself at the very beginning of the book. So how is Erin being tried for a murder we know she didn’t commit especially as there were witnesses to his suicide.

Throughout the story we are jumping back and forth in timelines. We, as the reader, spend the most time with Erin where we have present day which is her case and ‘then’ which follows her relationship with Danny and how she deals with his death. We learn that as in love as Erin and Danny were, there is a lot about Danny that Erin is still to discover. The problem is it’s not all good.

The third timeline we have is set around Ally, who is a proctor at Harvard University and finds herself struggling to help a young woman Lauren who has clearly been assaulted. It is clear that Ally and Erin’s story are connected, but it is just not so clear how it is.

I believe that Jo Spain is a very talented writer and once I was engrossed (which was pretty early on) it was hard to out down. I thought I had worked everything out, but I was so far from correct I couldn’t help but be shocked.
Erin is our lead protagonist and she is an extremely realistic and believable character. With the story being told in first person at times it just felt like a friend was having a conversation with me rather than I was reading a book. She has some funny one liners but reading her mission to get answers is almost heat breaking alongside relatable. As our protagonist she doesn’t have all her stuff together which most grieving widows don’t. I loved that we get to follow her investigation to uncover the truth and once she does it is not what anyone expects, its worse.

One thing Jo Spain does really well is how she writes her side characters. Karla the lawyer is one of the funniest characters I’ve read in a while. Her hate for her local cafè shop owner but her love for the coffee is a little bit of humour she throws into the story even in the final chapter. Tanya who is Erin’s sister seems to be a stereotypical Irish woman, in the best way! I loved how the sisters relationship is written especially when they talk of their sister Niamh when we get the full extent of their sisters death a lot falls into place.

There are a load of others that really bring the story to life Bud, Ben, Lucy and Cal. All of which we get a great introduction of them through Erin’s eyes and we get to read her opinion on each character and see how they fit into this process with her.

Ally’s storyline seems to differ in pace compared to Erin’s yet we cover almost the same amount of ground with Ally as we do with Erin. I felt my heart break for Ally the and the more and more we learn about her the more I wanted to mother her and tell her nothing that happened was her fault but she literally brings trouble to Lauren’s door. I found trying to figure out why and how they were linked to the main storyline went a different way to how I would of guessed and to be honest it was more shocking than I had expected.

Jumping from one timeline to another actually works really well. I found the writing flows really well and is extremely engaging. With such sensitive topics being discussed Jo Spain manages to write in such way that not only illustrated the seriousness of the topic but also conveyed without overwhelming the reader.
Would I recommend this book?

Yes I would! I found myself completely hooked from the first chapter; this is a great thriller mystery. I wanted to know what was going on and how Erin was on a murder trial for what was clearly a suicide. The only let down for this book was the final chapter just felt rushed and not as well thought out as the rest of the story, I needed more. Otherwise, this would of been a 5 star rating but because of this it’s 4.5 stars.

Thank you to The Girly Book Club, Jo Spain and Quercus fiction publishers for a paperback version of the perfect lie in exchange for my fair and honest opinions.

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