Title: Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
When a teenaged girl disappears from an insular small town, all of the community’s most devastating secrets come to light in this stunningly atmospheric and slow-burning suspense novel—perfect for fans of Megan Miranda and Celeste Ng.
The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.
When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.
Among those secrets: Abi’s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders.
But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.
Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey is a complex, enthralling mystery set in a small Colorado town.
The disappearance of seventeen-year-old Abigail “Abi” Blake is the catalyst for shocking secrets in Whistling Ridge to come to light. Her best friend Emma Alvarez deeply regrets leaving Abi at the fateful party in the woods. Abi’s mother Dolly is beaten down by life with an abusive husband and she feels incredibly guilty over her absent parenting and failure to listen when her daughter needed her. Abi’s oldest brother Noah also carries a heavy burden of remorse that he refused to forgive her for an unintended mistake that cost him his chance to escape their dysfunctional home. Youngest brother Jude is conflicted about speaking up about something that might be critical to the investigation. Samuel instills fear of violence in his family as he drinks to forget a dark secret that has haunted him for much of his adult life.
Many of the ultra-conservative townspeople are also very religious. Pastor Ed Lewis stirs up plenty of bigotry and hatred during his sermons. Emma experiences the town’s xenophobia every day at the hands of her classmates. With her only friend missing, she turns to the other outcast in town, Romanian immigrant Rat Lă custă who eventually becomes a scapegoat for the town’s fears. Emma is also surprised when popular student Hunter Maddox befriends her and offers to assist her as she searches for the truth about what happened to Abi. During her quest for answers, Emma is hurt when she uncovers her best friend was keeping shocking secrets that may have led to her disappearance.
Where the Truth Lies is a multi-layered mystery that exposes the seamy underbelly of Whistler Ridge. Emma is a lonely young woman whose struggles to find her place in Whistler Ridge are heart-wrenching. Her loneliness if palpable as she tries to make sense of Abi’s life in the month leading up to her disappearance. The violence in the Blake household is well known in town yet no one steps in to offer any assistance. Chapters from before Abi’s disappearance gradually reveal the jaw-dropping reason for her possible murder. With a final stunning flashback, Anna Bailey brings her captivating debut to a very unanticipated conclusion.