Reviewed by Jeannie McLean
Having read Bickley's previous works (Driftwood, Footprints, Lives Interrupted), I was expecting good. I got better than good. Lies of the Dead is a tightly constructed, pacy, character driven crime novel with unexpected twists keeping the reader turning the pages to the very end.
The story begins in Poldrayth, a fictional village in Cornwall, an area Bickely knows well. Tom Trethowan, a charter skipper, is informed that his brother Liam has committed suicide. Police believe that Liam took out Tom's boat, left a neat pile of clothes, wallet and keys, plus a brief note, weighted himself down and went overboard. Tom finds this act hard to believe of his brother but circumstances suggest otherwise.
The central idea is that no one really knows the 'whole' person they love. While the story revolves around Liam, his disappearance, presumed death, and how the various people in his life deal with this, we also get to know more of the 'whole' of Tom and sister Andi.
Tom lets his business suffer while he sorts out Liam's affairs, becoming more and more convinced that there are too many unexplained happenings for him to accept Liam's suicide. Andi, dealing with her own problems -an errant husband and daughters Sophie and Kristen who are on the brink of adult hood, is more jaundiced about her brother Liam, believing that in death, as in life, Liam continued to pull their strings.
Bickley interweaves the lives of Tom and Andi, their colleagues and friends on a day-to-day ride that leads us to the truth about Liam. The plot is tight, the characters are real, the dialogue true to each and the ending very satisfying. As the clever, slow reveal of Liam's motivations unfold, we also come to understand the motivations that drive Tom and Andi which lead them, and Andi's daughters into danger. Even one of the two thugs has a side other than carrying out the bosses orders unconditionally.
Lies of the Dead is available on Amazon in e-book, or print. You can read more about Shauna Bickley and her writing at www.shaunabickley.com and read her blog at shaunabickley.blogspot.com
Jeannie McLean is a young adult fiction author, and works in the education sector in Auckland.