By: Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: 05/12/20
My Rating: 5 Stars +++
Top Books 2020
Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…
Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.
For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.
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Gudenkauf proves herself the master of the smart, suspenseful small-town thriller that gets right under your skin.”
—Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny
“A twisty, evocative tale of the danger of secrets and the power the past has to lead us down deliciously dangerous paths. Immersive and richly atmospheric, This Is How I Lied intertwines page-turning suspense with characters that creep into your very bones…. An exhilarating thriller that shows Heather Gudenkauf is at the top of her game.”
—Christina McDonald, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell
THIS IS HOW I LIED is a riveting crime thriller of an unsolved murder cold case, and the Author takes her finely crafted skill to another level. Atmospheric, heart-pounding, adrenaline-filled, intense, and extremely satisfying.
Another superb edgy thriller from one of my favorite authors. Powerhouse Author Heather Gudenkauf is a master of smart, chilling, and psychological thrillers. I have read each of them and anxiously awaiting the next.
Deadly menace and dangerous secrets are uncovered in this small rural town in Iowa. Murders, monsters, predators, and thieves live among us. Often it is the person we least expect.
Heather’s latest THIS IS HOW I LIED is a taut cat-and-mouse thriller that relentlessly uncovers a multitude of secrets, leading readers down a delicious path of fear, lies, and long-awaited justice, with a jaw-dropping ending.
Her BEST yet! Fans of Authors Karen Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, and Lisa Unger will find a lot to like here. Trust me, you will devour it. Gudenkauf is at the TOP of her game.
Gudenkauf effortlessly introduces and paints many interesting characters in this fast-paced and gripping crime thriller. Rich in description, as well as delving into the motives and thoughts of each of the characters.
Let’s dive in:
Set in Grotto, Iowa, in a small river town of ten thousand that sits among Grotto Caves State Park. As the novel begins, it is 1995, and we meet Eve Knox, a fifteen-year-old girl who knew the paths and caves better than most.
Many times, she had come here before to clear her head and think about things, but today she fears she may not make it out alive. Her worst fears came true. How did things go so wrong?
Now twenty twenty-five years later. Fast forward to the summer of 2020. Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe is a detective with the Grotto Police Department. She is married to Shaun and eight months pregnant with a girl. They also own an apple orchard and tree farm.
A cold case comes across Maggie’s desk. A piece of new evidence in the Eve Knox case. Eve was Maggie’s best friend. A boy and his friend were in the Ransom Caves and found a boot. The graffiti-style flowers and leather Doc Martens were among Eve’s prized possessions and matches the one in the evidence bag.
All the fears and horrors surface; the secrets and the lies. Maggie and Eve’s sister Nola had been the ones to discover the body when she went missing.
Maggie is on the case and is forced to relive memories from the past. She has held on to this secret for years.
There are so many suspects. There is Nola, now a vet with a mentally unstable background (she is one freakish, scary character- and gave me the shivers each time she appears on the page, not knowing what she will do next).
There is also the rich, jock and abusive boyfriend, Nick, and a pedophile neighbor, the neighbor in the BMW, crazy mom, and others, which are possible suspects.
Maggie’s father, Henry William Kennedy, was the former police chief of Grotto at the time of the arrest and is currently suffering from dementia. Her older brother Colin is a budding artist and is their father’s caretaker.
However, Maggie is fearful, and events of that day long ago are blurred. What really happened? She recalls being very upset, but Nola seemed to be hard, cold, and unemotional when they went to a nearby neighbor’s to seek help that day.
Maggie puts her excellent sleuthing skills in motion. Her life may depend on it. She dives deeper into the case, the events leading up to the death of her best friend began to surface.
These were two teen friends, but each of them had their own secrets to bear. A loss of innocence, and two teen girls with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Maggie is stressed, pregnant, and begins to suspect another person and begins to monitor. She also begins receiving threatening phone calls, then their barn is set on fire, and now someone wants her to tamper with evidence and is blackmailing her.
How much did her father know? Was he trying to protect her years ago?
She is left with three pieces of evidence. She has the power to decide which one is sent to the lab. Will she cross moral lines? She can attain justice for her best friend plus more, but what will she do?
When given the opportunity when blackmailed, which killer will she choose?
OMG! I have never read a book so atmospheric, suspenseful, gripping, and INTENSE. A multi-layered astute and engrossing crime thriller. From past to present, you will be sure you know the identity of the killer, and then your suspicion changes the more you read. Up until the killer in the cave is revealed, you will be breathless. We go back to ground zero.
A sensitive exploration of trauma and its insidious, lasting effects told with compassion. The author is in complete control as she brilliantly maneuvers this tale. She takes readers deep inside the minds of the victims. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice.
A satisfying ending, showing that crimes and secrets are never indeed buried and often people get what they deserve in the end, but it may take a while to get there.
What made this sophisticated crime thriller so engrossing is the POV from different characters (Eve, Maggie, Nola, both past and present and infused with snippets of The Willow Creek Gazette, comments from readers, therapy transcripts, autopsy reports, and 911 transcripts.
THIS IS HOW I LIED is frightening, vividly descriptive, utterly compelling, dark, and atmospheric.
There are so many evil characters you are not sure which one is worse. But what if you held all the cards? You have the evidence to make one person pay? What would you do? The lines are of right and wrong are blurred.
I really enjoy the author’s talent of writing teens’ narrative and the timeline from past to present. You feel the raw emotions and different events which lead them to desperate actions.
Totally unpredictable, highly creative, and unputdownable. Underneath the darkness lies a young girl who has held on to a secret. Now years later, will she be able to share the truth, and will justice be served?
DYNAMITE! Trust me, you will be holding your breath at the turn of each page. The scene at the cave with the baby put me into super tachycardia. You never know what to expect. These dark characters will have guessing which one is the evilest. Who is the killer?
An impressive, intriguing, well-written, and irresistible thriller that held my attention from the first page until the jaw-dropping hold your breathtaking explosive ending. I stayed up until 7 am two mornings to finish because I could not wait to see how it would end. This book exceeded all expectations and then some.
THIS IS HOW I LIED is a perfect title. Prime for the big screen or TV series. This is Stephen King quality, readers. (Nola’s character is like no-other). I am hoping to see more of Maggie in a series. Well-done. Highly recommend.
A special thank you to Park Row Books, the author, and NetGalley for an early reading copy. I also purchased the audiobook and currently listening.
Also, check out Before She Was Found (Top Books of 2019) and my Q&A Elevator Ride with the Author.
About the Author
Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and Not A Sound.
Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.
Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.
Heather lives in Iowa with her family and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading and hiking. She is currently working on her next novel. Read More