I Love It When You Lie: A suspense novel
“Written in a literary style, with a combination of Southern Gothic, domestic suspense, and a good old fashioned whodunnit . . .”
The Williams sisters share a secret. A man is dead, most likely at one, or more, of their hands.
But that’s not the only secret the women hold close. Each sister—Tara, June, and Clementine—have secrets of their own.
Tara, married to a local pastor, is a thief. June, a nurse and married to a doctor, steals a baby. And Clementine is sleeping with an older, married man.
Kristen Bird uses all three sisters as point-of-view characters, investing the reader in each story from the inside and the outside simultaneously. We view each moral, and sometimes legal, indiscretion from the perpetrator’s position, as well as the perspectives of the other women.
This inside/outside investigation builds a complex picture of each life choice, because sometimes those closest to us know us better than we know ourselves.
But there’s a wildcard in the mix. The sisters have one brother, Walker, who married Stephanie, a woman who is now and always will be, the outsider.
I Love It When You Lie is set deep in Appalachia, where Stephanie can’t get on equal footing. She’s from the north and will never be accepted as a member of the tightknit circle.
But she might be the only person who can destroy them.
In addition to the multiple point-of-view characters, Bird also plays with time. Events are told in reverse, a crime has already been committed in the opening Prologue, which starts with the heading: “The Sherriff’s Office in Willow Gap, Alabama, Memorial Day, The Day After.”
The big event of the book has already happened, and the story moves forward before it moves back.
Stephanie knows exactly what that big event was. “I shiver just thinking about the three Williams sisters standing in the family cemetery, their arms entwined, gazing up at the sunrise, all that cool Alabama clay piled beside them, their fingernails packed with the red earth, the stench of what they’d done in their nostrils.”
As Stephanie sits in the interview room, she considers the possible victims. “Four men: a preacher, a doctor, a professor, and a mayor. One goes missing. It’s like our own little Willow Gap edition of Clue.”
Any one of those men might be dead somewhere in the Alabama woods, but without a body, the sheriff only knows that a man has disappeared. The sheriff would like nothing better than to lock up at least one of the Williams sisters for a murder.
Sheriff Brady Dean has “been after this family for more than thirty years, ever since he was first elected.” His longtime grudge against Gran well known in the community, spilling over onto her grandchildren.
Then Chapter 1 starts three days before, as Tara prepares for the funeral of Gran, the family matriarch who raised the siblings after the death of their parents—a woman with a secret of her own.
Back and forth, past to present, the drama of the missing man remains a backdrop for each woman’s personal tragedy, making this more than a mystery; it’s also an investigation of women trapped by conventions, expectations, and family history. Propelled by desires, they each face a tearing down of everything they hold dear.
Who is the guilty party? And what was the actual crime? With one final twist at the end, Bird reveals the main event. Showing once and for all what’s worth burying, no matter the cost.
Written in a literary style, with a combination of Southern Gothic, domestic suspense, and a good old fashioned whodunnit—although in this case it’s more of a whowasdun—I Love It When You Lie is a new take on all those genres, culminating in a compulsive read.