I recently finished a mystery/thriller from an author I had not read before.
Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri was a book that I had seen on Entertainment Weekly’s website and it sounded interesting to me.
Interesting was one word for it.
The book follows Maeve, a divorced, single mother who is raising two teenage daughters while running a bakery. The story picks up right after the death of Maeve’s cousin, Sean, who was shot in a park.
Turns out, Sean was murdered and there are several people in Maeve’s family, including Maeve, who have motive and opportunity. Police focus in quickly on Maeve’s father, Jack, who suffers from Alzheimers.
And Maeve has motive in that Sean abused her for years as a child.
Sean’s death releases a realization in Maeve that she’s no longer a victim of the abuse–a realization she attempts to pass on to another woman in a slightly similar situation. Maeve takes to essentially stalking the woman’s husband and makes decisions that wouldn’t be looked upon favorably by most.
The ending was interesting and I would have enjoyed the twist more, in all likelihood, if I hadn’t accidentally caught a glimpse of a page later in the book that gave it away. That’s what I get for being one of those people who flips pages while reading.
I don’t necessarily agree with Barbieri’s argument that some people deserve to die for what they’ve done. She essentially makes this argument with how Sean and Michael Lorenzo are portrayed. Regardless of a person’s deeds, no one deserves to be murdered. At least in my way of thinking.
There’s a second book in the series coming out next month and I’m excited for it, however, I’m not entirely sure I’m going to read it. I think it would be interesting to see how the plot goes, but at the same time, I’m not sure I would agree with it. Justifying homicide based on a person’s past isn’t something I can stomach reading on a regular basis.
To me, Once Upon a Lie read like it was meant to be a standalone book. And it was intriguing. It captured my attention and kept me engaged until the last page.
At approximately 280 pages, it’s a fairly short read and one I would suggest for mystery enthusiasts.