Anna Bailey / Book Review / Reviews with Spoilers

Anna Bailey | Where The Truth Lies

The Book: 

Where The Truth Lies by Anna Bailey
Published August 3, 2021 by Atria Books
Date read: September 17, 2022

The Characters: 

Noah, Jude


Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.

When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.

Among those secrets: Abi’​s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’​s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders.

But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.

Click here for book spoilers for Where The Truth Lies
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Where The Truth Lies, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

Abi’s father Samuel had killed her. He was regularly abusing his whole family, especially Noah because Noah was gay and Samuel was wildly religious.

Dolly (their mother) had left town for a weekend around the time Abi was conceived, and had said something to Noah about a night in a motel. Samuel would regularly make fun of Noah for Abi being more manly than him, and one day Noah had had enough. Since Abi was Samuel’s pride and joy, Noah said she wasn’t his. This was maybe questioned at the end, when Dolly points out all the features Abi and Samuel had in common. Regardless, Samuel thought Abi wasn’t his kid, so he took her out to their shed that night and raped her. Jude, the youngest, saw him do it, but didn’t realize what he had seen at the time.

Abi was pregnant, presumably with Samuel’s kid. She had asked her mother if she could go to the clinic to get the morning-after pill, but her mother wouldn’t take her.

Hunter saw Abi’s diary where she had written about the rape and the pregnancy. They made a plan to leave town. Abi didn’t tell Emma because Emma had enough on her plate without worrying about Abi too. The night that Hunter and Abi tried to escape, Samuel found them and stopped them. He shot Abi with her own gun (that Hunter had stolen from Rat) and her body fell in the river. Hunter never said anything because Samuel threatened that he would frame him.

Emma realized the truth because she had seen Samuel wearing the bracelet that Abi was wearing the night she died. Dolly found the diary pages and found out too (why didn’t Samuel destroy them??).

The Ending:

Dolly finally got the strength to protect her children and shot Samuel in the face.

The Review: 

Where The Truth Lies is about a small town full of terrible people. There was not one character I liked, except maybe for Abi’s younger brother Jude. You’ve got homophobes, racists, and religious zealots, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In a way, it’s a little too realistic to be comfortable! The characters were well-written in that they were all so easy to hate, especially the adults.

This book was more character-driven than I’m used to in most thrillers, leaving the reader with a guessable twist and a couple of plot holes. On audio, I got a little mixed up between the Then and Now chapters and likely would have benefitted from a physical copy I could flip back through.

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