Lies of the Dead, by Shauna Bickley

Successful London stockbroker Liam Trethowan disappears one night on board of his brother’s boat, the “Kalina”. The obvious answer seems suicide, something his brother Tom struggles to accept. When Tom starts looking for clues as to why Liam may have killed himself he stumbles across inconsistencies in his brother’s life; and when he meets the enigmatic Janine, Tom becomes convinced that suicide may not be the answer to Liam’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Liam’s sister Andi – who has recently separated from her husband and is faced with the challenges of being a solo-mother to her twin girls – resents being drawn into anything to do with Liam. To Andi, Liam’s supposed suicide is just the final act in a life-long series of selfish actions. However, Andi does becomes part of unravelling the mystery, and soon has the feeling that someone is following her every move. Now it is up to Tom to decipher the pieces of Liam’s life that are left, in order to get some answers about the kind of man his brother was, and what would have driven him to be on board of the “Kalina” that night. When Dave and Mickey – two muscle-men for hire – show up, time starts to run out in Tom’s search for answers.

Lies of the Dead is the third novel by New Zealand based author Shauna Bickley. Set in England, Lies of the Dead is a novel about deception and family dynamics. It attempts to create a fusion of suspense and domesticity, and show how our every-day lives can quickly become unravelled by the existence of people who live dangerously, and deal with the “darker” side of life.

The story flows between the viewpoints of Tom and Andi, and there are some engaging moments of action and suspense in between a predominantly dialogue driven plot, and several strange coincidences.

While the character of Andi is convincingly portrayed, it is hard to get a real sense of the character of Tom. By all accounts the main hero, Tom seems strangely inexpressive, and events that should be eliciting some real insight into his character pass by without the reader being able to make any tangible connection to him.

Lies of the Dead is a quick, light read – it is not deep enough to really draw you in, but also not shallow enough to not make you want to know about Liam’s secrets, and what happens in the end.

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Tanya is a freelance writer, reviewer and blogger with a background in comparative literature. When she is not reading fabulous new books or writing about them, you can find her horse riding or walking her dogs in the beautiful Waitakere ranges. Visit Tanya at livingwritingreading.com.

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