Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.
Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.
Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.
Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.
All the Beautiful Lies is a memorising read; narrated in the “now” by Harry and the “then” by Alice, I was eager to know how everything connected, seeing the foundation for the future that was laid by the past.
You can rely on Swanson to deliver a twisted thriller that is so beautifully written and reads fluidly. And what’s more twisted than desire and obsession within the family. Alice’s perspective is an account of her younger days, how the cycle started, and it’s so twisted how it continues. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Maine highlighted how dark the characters in this novel were. It was the characters that really made this novel what it was, their subtle actions, subtle forms of manipulation. If you enjoy reading about dysfunctional families, this is a must-read novel for you.
If you’ve read Her Every Fear, also by Swanson, you’ll know he has a clever way of structuring his novels, his ability to draw you in; the pace in this one isn’t particularly fast but it’s a quick read because you have to know what happens next. Let’s just say, Swanson knows how to write suspense of a disturbing nature. While this novel portrayals a sexualised relationship between step-parents and step-children, it’s not done in a way that makes this taboo topic the selling point for the novel, the psychology behind all that occurs is what grips you. The inner workings of a twisted mind.
And this novel isn’t without its layers, what goes on behind closed doors and the façade to the outside world must stay separate, because when they merge, things gets complicated and lives are lost. All the Beautiful Lies makes for addictive reading, the plot is dark, the themes are dark, the tension is ripe, and the plot is 100% absorbing, and it’s not without its twists either.
All the Beautiful Lies is another solid novel from Swanson, one that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. Swanson is a very talented author and if you’re a fan of novels addressing family ties, misguided love, secrets and lies, I highly recommend you read this one!