Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Review of "Every Last Lie" by Mary Kubica
Nick and Clara Solberg seem to be a happily married, successful young couple living on the outskirts of Chicago.....until something terrible happens.
Nick is driving his little girl home from ballet class when a terrible accident takes his life.....and miraculously spares his four-year-old daughter Maisie. Nick's wife Clara - who's home nursing their 4-day-old infant Felix when the tragedy occurs - is shocked and disoriented by the loss. One minute she's married to a successful dentist, and the next she's a 28-year-old widow with two small children.
Clara has other problems as well. Her mother is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and her father - who cares for his wife with the help of an aide - can barely cope.
The police investigate the crash and conclude that Nick's reckless driving caused the accident. Clara refuses to accept this; she doesn't think Nick would put his child at risk. Clara's beliefs are reinforced when Maisie says 'a bad man' was following the car.....and freaks out at the sight of a black automobile. Clara concludes that someone in a black car forced Nick off the road - in other words, murdered him!
Clara does some investigating of her own, and talks to people who live near the accident site. She brings her 'evidence' to the police, who say they'll look into 'the black car' murder theory. However, the cops are clearly skeptical.
Meanwhile, Clara - a photographer with little income at the moment - knows she has to pull things together. She needs to collect Nick's life insurance to pay for hefty funeral expenses and household bills; and she has to sell Nick's dental practice. When Clara looks into doing these things, however, she discovers that Nick was keeping BIG secrets from her!
The story is told in the alternating voices of Nick and Clara. Nick relates his experiences before the accident; and Clara talks about what happens right before and then after the crash.
In Nick's narrative we learn that he had a big fight with his bullying neighbor across the street; he pulled the tooth of a patient from hell, with dire consequences; he fell out with his 'partner' in the dental practice; he gambled with the family's funds; he became reacquainted with his (now married) former girlfriend, whose son might be his; and so on. Nick was becoming undone by these problems - but felt he couldn't tell Clara because she was pregnant.
In Clara's chapters, we see her find out about Nick's secrets.....one by one. Clara discovers that the dental practice is in disarray and that Nick's life insurance policy was cancelled. Clara also sees a receipt for a pricey necklace among Nick's things and learns that a woman had a restraining order against him. These discoveries - and other 'clues' - lead Clara to speculate that Nick was having an affair; that he was a drug dealer; that he was planning to leave her; etc.
Clara adds to her own troubles by refusing to tell Maisie that her father is dead. Maisie's continual request 'to see daddy' is met with lies and misdirection.
On top of all that, Clara's parents are in crisis. Her mother no longer recognizes her; acts out when Clara's visits; and - when no one is looking - swipes the car keys and goes for rides. For his part, Clara's father seems to be having problems with his memory and is apparently mishandling the family's finances.
As Clara tries to identify Nick's killer; take care of her money woes; figure out who Nick really is; and take care of a toddler and an infant - she starts to break down. She can't sleep, can't eat, and edges toward becoming delusional - unable to separate speculation from fact. Moreover, Clara's paranoia is exacerbated by a real life 'stalker.'
The story is engaging and kept my attention, but at some point - around the middle of the book - the characters' woes started to strain credulity.
For instance, Nick's problems became so immense that I no longer believed he could keep them from his wife. A man with so much on his mind couldn't act act completely normal at home. Surely Clara would suss something out!
As for Clara, she seemed to lose all her common sense and - at one point - behaved like a psychopath.....with her children right there. I found this behavior to be unbelievable.
Even with these problems, though, the story is a compelling thriller with surprises I never saw coming. The book doesn't require much deep thinking and would be a good choice for vacation entertainment (IMO).
Rating: 3 stars