Sent to me by Orenda Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 15/09/16
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, 300pp
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Drama
Summed up in a word: Abusive
I seem to be reading a string of books that handle tough subject matter. A Suitable Lie is a story of spousal abuse. It deals with the fact that abuse can affect both female and male members of a relationship. Michael J. Malone has centred this book around a male abuse victim. Male victims are rarer but abuse has many different faces and when children are involved in the mix, manipulation is easier and consequences are much more severe. MJM manages to craft a skin-crawling story that deals with male abuse which doesn’t diminish or disrespect any female victim’s cases. The inclusion of a female sufferer as a supporting character really helped bring the whole story together. This book is very intense, be warned! If you enjoy intensity and emotion, see below for my full review.
Some secrets should never be kept…
Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.
A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…
It is rare when you find a book that you actually have to read through your fingers like your watching a particularly graphic horror movie. That was definitely my experience with A Suitable Lie. This novel deals with some huge societal issues and MJM captures all the pain, worry, fear and salvation that comes with being in/getting out of an abusive relationship. MJM doesn’t take it easy on the reader at all; he has a point he wants to get through to people by any means possible.
Andy Boyd is a widower. Losing his wife in childbirth, he is left to raise their infant son on his own. Andy loves Pat with all his heart and soul; Pat was his anchor in a sea of grief. Until now Andy has remained single and focused on Pat; but he begins to believe in love again when meeting Anna on a rare night out with his brother. Anna breaks down his walls of grief and for many reasons, including her love for Pat, they decide to get hitched.
But when arguments and injuries occur on their wedding night, Andy is beginning to wonder if he made the right choice. Not only is the plot in A Suitable Lie huge, spanning many years, it is also unrelentingly brutal. Andy is a calm and loving man but, with a wife who wants her pound of flesh and a job in turmoil, he is struggling to stay sane… and alive. Andy’s only concern is protecting his son at any cost. I can’t imagine being imprisoned in a relationship with someone like Anna, my wife is a gentle and caring person, so this book really caught me off guard. The blurb suggests trouble but the magnitude of said trouble is unclear, for a good reason.
This is the first MJM book that I have read but it certainly won’t be the last. Malone’s writing style is unique, managing to write a story spanning so many years while keeping it coherent and shocking. I have never really read about spousal abuse as I have never had to deal with anything connected to it. A Suitable Lie is one of those potent novels that gives you insights into a subject you had never really consider, or at least put at the back of your mind. Themes like abuse, suffering, disconnection, family, grief and loss are here and they are not for the faint hearted. If you pick up A Suitable Lie you will be rewarded with a psychologically thrilling, challenging, deeply relevant and meaningful story of an individual overcoming considerable abuse. I was disturbed by this novel but I was also uplifted; I think people who may be unaware of certain behaviours in their life may benefit from reading this.
Overall I have given A Suitable Lie 4/5 stars as it is a read that packs an emotional punch. Andy’s story is relevant, agonistic and there are many elements to it that people can appreciate or benefit from. I felt that A Suitable Lie was touch too OTT with the pain and emotional distress; but I can see that MJM has written it that way to show the reader the importance of getting out of abusive relationships.
About Michael J. Malone
Michael J. Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; and Beyond the Rage. His poetry includes: In The Raw, Running Threads and Lip Synch. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.