Amy Lloyd’s second novel One More Lie takes a look at the human stories behind those evil monsters and animals people are dubbed by sensational newspaper headlines and in the public outrage voiced via social media comments. It makes for a gripping read.
Charlotte wants a fresh start. She wants to forget her past, forget her childhood crime – and, most of all, forget that one terrible moment.
It’s the reason she’s been given a new name, a new life. The reason she spent years in prison. But even on the outside, with an ankle monitor and court-mandated therapy, she can’t escape the devastating memory of the night that turned her and her only friend into national hate figures.
But now her friend has found her. And despite the lies she tells to survive, she soon finds herself being dragged deeper and deeper into a past she cannot confront.
Switching between Her/Him and Now/Then, Amy Lloyd’s novel tells the story of two childhood friends, Charlotte and Sean, who were imprisoned for a crime that has led to them both being given new identities. But having that fresh slate isn’t as straightforward or as freeing as it sounds. As Charlotte says: “They can give you an identity but they can’t give you a life. There is so much missing… You are brand new and lack all the clutter that makes a person real. No past.”
We spend most time with Charlotte, especially early on in the book, and it’s distressing to see how ill-equipped she is to cope with life on the outside, having been institutionalised for such a large part of her life. Her one constant and an absolute lifeline is her psychiatrist, Dr Isherwood. Yet, even here, I came to question how healthy this relationship was, and also how wise the doctor had been to accommodate her patient’s needs, and even her neediness, to the extent in which she did.
Charlotte hasn’t acquired many life skills and finds it very hard to read people or know which way to take what they’re saying. It soon becomes clear that despite role-playing situations and now living in a halfway hostel, after an unsuccessful earlier attempt at independent living, Charlotte still feels detached and untethered, and is vulnerable. “There’s a space inside me where a life should have been and it shows.”
Charlotte’s relationship with childhood friend Sean is both fascinating and complex. He’s her one connection to the past life they shared, so I could understand the pull while also fearing where it might lead. Especially when Sean’s life more outwardly seems set on a course to see him reoffend.
By telling their stories in first person, I really felt as if I were spending time inside Sean and Charlotte’s heads. Being that close to their thoughts and working through the reasoning or sensing the impulse behind their decisions and actions, both now and then, was unnerving and gave me goosebumps. There was a horrible feeling of inevitability and doom with each misstep or when things, no matter how well-intentioned, backfired and one thing led on to another. The further into the book we went, the harder it was to look away or see how this could ever end well.
Amy Lloyd creates a creeping sense of dread as she deftly builds the suspense, while ratcheting up the jeopardy for Charlotte and Sean, but it still didn’t prepare me for a final sentence that chilled me to the bone. This book’s even better than her first one, and I can promise you that’s not just One More Lie.
One More Lie by Amy Lloyd is published by Century, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It is available as an audiobook, ebook and in hardback with the paperback due out in September. You can find it at Amazon UK or buy it from Hive where purchases help support your local independent bookshop.
Amy Lloyd won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition in 2016 for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. I reviewed it last summer and you can read the review here. You can follow the author on Twitter.
My thanks to Amy for giving me a copy of One More Lie to read.
*GIVEAWAY* I have one signed paperback of Amy’s first book The Innocent Wife together with an unsigned hardback to give away. Leave a comment below & the squirrels will pick a winner.