All the Beautiful Lies

by Peter Swanson

Overview: From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an "otherworldly" way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years. Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Deanna Boe (06/06/18):Books that go from “then” and “now” aren’t always my favorite type of book to read, especially if I don’t pay enough attention to the names involved between the “then” and the “now.” This was certainly the case in this book. I couldn’t understand why the storyline kept going back to two of these characters and what it had to do with the death of the father, Bill, in the beginning of the book and his second wife, Alice.

The book begins with Harry returning home from college days before his college graduation. His step-mother, Alice, had called to tell him that his Father was dead. At first it was thought to be an accident but later it became suspicious as to how Bill fell while out doing his usual late afternoon walk. This first part was easy to understand but as the narrative continues it does become confusing and also gave me an off-putting feeling. This is where I must confess to how stupidly the name Alice didn’t connect with me between the “then and now.”

The “then” part shows how Alice fell in love with her step-father, Jake, and does little to help her alcoholic Mother overcome her addiction. When her Mother passes out it simply gives her time with Jake. When Alice found her Mother choking on her vomit she did nothing to help her. After her Mother’s death, 16 year old Alice starts her affair with Jake, which lasts for years, and left me feeling creepy. Also, during this period of time, Alice manages to murder her one and only “best” friend.

The author tosses in another young lady who shows up at Bill’s funeral, who now intrigues Harry. Harry finds out his Father had been having an affair with this young lady. Does this author have a hang-up with older people having affairs with much younger people? Oh yes, the Step-Mother seduces Harry. Again, in reading other reviews about this book I was amazed at how many simply “love” this author and thought this book was great. Am I too much of a fuddy-duddy? In short, you be the judge on this one.
Rating: **

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