New Zealand author Carne Maxwell's third novel, One Little Lie, opens with nineteen-year-old Melissa being told by her mother that she will need to spend the Christmas holidays working on Melissa's uncle's tomato farm on Waiheke Island. Melissa is not impressed with having to spend time there while her mother is out of the country on a work trip. She hasn't seen her uncle and two cousins, Seth and Tyler, for eight years, so she doesn't feel much of a connection with this part of the family.
Things look more promising when her three friends, Katrina, Belinda and Alison, join her with the work offer, however, and they are soon settled into life on beautiful Waiheke Island. The four of them are by turns caring and competitive, vying for Seth and Tyler's affections, who are now handsome young men. Things get complicated when Melissa's girlfriends encourage her to go out with Stephen, another Waiheke local. She ends up in a very compromising situation, leading to an even more complicated state of affairs. Melissa does the only thing she can think about when under pressure – she tells a lie. A lie that will end up having huge ramifications.
It's refreshing to read a novel mainly set on Waiheke Island, and it captures the laid-back beauty of this place. But this isn't a light read, despite a fair amount of teenage angst, attitude and antics. Carne Maxwell exposes a dark underbelly in a book that includes drugs and drug addiction, sex and teenage pregnancy, assault, abduction and murder. This is a story where the past, present and future, will ultimately collide.
Just a note on the cover, as well as being a writer, Carne Maxwell has produced this compelling cover, with her real-life daughter posing for the image.