"Every Last Lie" by Mary Kubica
I really expected to enjoy Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica.
Not only is it a thriller, which I usually like, but also the plot seemed exceptionally promising.
As the book opens, we are introduced to Clara Solberg, who sits at home with a needy newborn while her husband, Nick, takes their older child, Maisie, to ballet class. Unfortunately, Nick never returns home. Instead, he dies in a car crash – one that, thankfully, Maisie survives.
Clara is left struggling not only with raising these two kids on her own, but also with the uncertainty surrounding Nick’s death.
Was he simply driving too fast, or is there more to his death than meets the eye?
Was he actually, somehow, murdered?
These questions propel the plot forward.
To answer them comprehensively, Kubica alternates perspectives and moves back and forth in time – composing half of the chapters from Clara’s perspective in the days and weeks following Nick’s death and the other half from Nick’s prospective in the days and weeks leading up to the fateful car crash.
This sounds compelling, right?
I thought so, too.
Add to this the fact that the author utilizes the four-year-old daughter, who was with her father at the time of his death, as an unreliable narrator of sorts. Throughout the book, little Maisie spouts information that only serves to further convince her mother that this wasn’t an accident but instead a crime.
It seems so promising.
And yet, the further I read the less invested I became in the plot and characters.
As I moved through the book I became overwhelmed by what seemed to be a never-ending stream of red herrings.
*Spoiler Alert – Plot Points Ahead*
Okay. I’ve heard of someone having a string of bad luck, but we are expected to believe that Nick’s luck has been profoundly bad for an exceedingly long period of time.
And Nick wasn’t just unlucky on one front.
He’s got a failing dental practice he can’t afford.
He’s dealing with a conniving patient who has managed to launch a malpractice claim.
He’s facing a former employee who is pissed about his termination.
He’s got a past relationship coming up to bite him in the ass.
He’s becoming increasing entangled with an abusive neighbor who holds a grudge against him.
There is just… too much.
Another issue – Clara.
Holy hell was she whiney.
Like, I get it, you have this newborn baby and your husband dies. It’s gonna suck. You get some leeway.
But Kubica’s depictions of this character made her seem like such a weak individual that I found it exceptionally difficult to really respect or even care about her.
This was probably made worse by the fact that, even in the flashback scenes when she was still pregnant and her husband still alive, she seemed needy and whiney.
And yes, she’s heavily pregnant. Got it. Not an excuse.
As readers, we are expected to believe that she is just a wonderful woman and that her husband loved her so much.
I found that hard to believe…because I didn’t find much about her to love.
There were also some believability issues.
For the most part, Kubica’s plot seemed…okay…believable enough, but there was one scene near the end that was really the shark jumping moment for me.
*Read on to hear about this scene… Again, this is a spoiler, so don’t complain later*
As the book nears the end, Clara confronts Izzy, the nurse who cares for Clara’s Alzheimer’s-ridden mother and accuses Izzy of playing a part in Nick’s death.
Izzy of course denies this – because she obviously had nothing to do with it. But, instead of being like, “I didn’t do it, peace out. Convo over.” She goes on to admit to all of this shitty stuff she’s been doing to Clara’s parents.
Izzy explains how she was planning to fake a car theft and pocket the insurance money (…mkay…) Then she goes on to reveal all of these other misdeeds she has been committing for quite some time.
Here’s the thing… I don’t buy it.
She’s been pretending to be this caring in-home health aide for months…years, maybe… and now all it takes is an angry woman and a bat and she’s spilling everything.
She wouldn’t have come clean so easily.
I just found myself saying, “Izzy, why are you telling her all of this?” In the words of Tom Segura, “Lie. Lie for longer.”
I mean, yes, Clara has a bat and is threatening to hit her (did hit her a few times, actually) but, like, if someone was threatening me with a bat the LAST FUCKING THING I would do is start speaking down to that person and admitting I’d done all sorts of bad shit.
Okay, so that’s a lot I just complained about…but I’ve been reading this book for a long time and it’s been building up.
Overall, I’m sitting at my desk moments after finishing this novel and feeling exceedingly disappointed.
Kubica’s writing is really quite good. I enjoy her use of words and the fluidity with which she presents action.
And, like I said, the premise of this novel was really strong.
Probably, in truth, it’s because the premise was so strong that I am so disappointed.
At least for me, it really failed to deliver on these promises.
On the strength of her writing and premise, and despite of my frustrations, I give this book 3 out of 5 cocktails.
Unfortunately, it looks like Kubica’s writing might just not be for me. (This isn’t my first time trying to board the Kubica train, I also read The Good Girl, which I enjoyed more than this, but still found a bit wanting). Are there any authors that everyone raves about but you just don’t love – no matter how hard you try? Tell me about it in the comments, below.
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