Between the Lies belongs to a familiar category of psychological suspense. A young woman, finds herself isolated and totally dependent upon someone, usually male, whom she cannot trust. Sometimes, as in S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, amnesia plays an additional role. Here Chloe finds herself on a country estate near Brighton, being cared for by her father, a psychiatrist, along with her mother, a younger sister, and a gardener. She is told that she was in a car smash where her young son Joshua was killed along with her husband. But Chloe soon begins to suspect that her parents are lying to her, and when the police interview her, that the physical evidence at the scene of the wreck fails to match the story that Chloe had been run off the road by a dangerous driver. The accused maintains that his car was stolen and he wasn’t at the scene. Even stranger – the police inform her that her spouse Andrew is very much alive. Gradually her father reveals that he has not been entirely truthful with her, claiming that the husband was an alcoholic whom Chloe had left, and that he had been deceiving her for her own good. He says he has been treating her with something called ‘reconsolidation therapy’ and giving her ‘propranodol’. I have taken propranolol for hypertension (till I found that abstaining from alcohol and losing weight works even better) but what he is doing struck me as unethical as all get-out. Surprisingly, according to Doctor Google, ’reconsolidation therapy’ is an accepted treatment for PTSD. Hard to imagine that forgetting – as opposed to facing up to and conquering – fearful events is an effective therapy, but even if it is, lying and deception surely isn’t. (There are rare cases when lying to a patient is the right thing to do – demential patients are unable to enter our world, so if we want to befriend them, we have to go into theirs.)
By midpoint in this genre, the main character starts to recover her freedom and to investigate what is really going on, often with the aid of another male character such as a detective or a physician, as I Before I Go to Sleep or Rosamund Lupton’s Sister. in this case it’s a younger colleague of Chloe’s father named Guy. Then we begin to wonder if this character is going to prove a white knight, or a villain in disguise.
I’d rank Between the Lies as a solid four star. The situation held me from the beginning. I truly hated Chloe’s father long before we find out whether he is a bad hat or just a manipulative weakling. Some of Chloe’s choices, both after the accident and in the revealed backstory were stupid (having an affair with someone who will try to kill you is always a sign of poor judgement) but in her circumstances she deserves forgiveness. I have a low tolerance for this species of fiction – seeing women abused either physically or psychologically repels me (I cannot reread Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner, though it is a great story), but Between the Lies falls into the safe zone. Readers of psychological thrillers should enjoy it.
I am grateful to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a gratis review advance e-copy.