Short Take: When Hell overflows, the dead shall walk the earth. Or maybe there’s a simpler explanation.
(*Note: I received an advance copy of this book for review.*)
It’s beyond a cliche to say that life can change in an instant, but it’s also very true. Every major event has that one pivotal second: the plus sign appearing on a pregnancy test, the mugger pulling out a gun, a gurgling sound from the lower abdomen.. We can all point to that one moment in our own lives just before everything takes a drastic turn and there’s no going back.
For Grace Dalton, that one moment comes when she and her beloved husband John are walking to their car after a lovely dinner celebrating their fifth anniversary. A pickup truck comes flying out of nowhere, and in seconds, John is dead in her arms.
The following weeks are a blur of grief, but eventually, Grace begins to return to her world, and that’s when things start getting weird. She sees John watching her, she passes out at inconvenient times, and sometimes does things that she has no memory of doing.
It also becomes increasingly obvious that John was involved in Something Shady.
Now, this all sounds like a really cool setup for a supernatural horror novel, in which John was a member of a Satanic cult and is currently screwing with Grace from the afterlife. However, this is not that book.
Tell Me No Lies is a paint-by-numbers thriller. The one major revelation is pretty easy to guess, and the rest of them aren’t really consequential.
Twisty plots are difficult to pull off. I love them, but I’m the first to say that I’m not a writer, and the main reason is that I can’t think of any good ones myself. A swing-and-a-miss plotwise isn’t the worst sin an author can commit, but unfortunately, once Mr. Sinclair takes a turn to BadBookTown, he floors it.
One of the biggest issues I had was the barely-sketched characters. Grace is pretty meh, passive and dull through most of the book. Her best friend Jennifer is, quite simply The Worst. She swings wildly between “Let me be your friend and be there for you and do whatever you need me to do” and “You’re not grieving like I think you should, I’m going to take my metaphorical toys and flounce dramatically out of your life”, back and forth, sometimes in a matter of hours or even minutes. John is a cypher, of course, since he dies in the first chapter, but as information is dribbled out about his life, there are still a lot of major pieces left out of the picture.
There’s also another issue I had that I am hesitant to post, because it would probably be construed as a major spoiler. So I will just say that [spoiler] a crucial scene just doesn’t work. It’s too drastic of a change in tone, and doesn’t fit with anything that’s been shown to that point.
The Nerd’s Rating: TWO HAPPY NEURONS (and a coffee and a BLT, because after hearing them mentioned so many times, I am craving them.)