Readers who know author Michael J Malone from his dark and gritty crime novels will find "A Suitable Lie" a very different kind of book. Well, in some ways at least. There's a quote on the cover that describes it as "domestic noir" and it is certainly every bit as dark as the darkest of his crime novels. Perhaps because, on reflection, it is set against the background of a crime, albeit a crime that is, for the most part, very different in nature from those usually confronted by the author's protagonists.
Andy Boyd can't believe his luck when he is offered a second chance at happiness in life. His first wife died in childbirth, leaving him as a single parent with a small boy to look after, and a career as a high street banker to pursue. Even with help from his family, he finds coping a struggle, until he meets Anna. She's bright, beautiful and fun, and a woman he feels is out of his league. Yet for some reason she falls for him. More importantly, she grows to love his son like he is her own. It seems almost too good to be true.
It is. The first hint of trouble comes when Andy finds himself in hospital with a broken nose on his wedding night. Before long, Andy finds himself confronting a reality very different from the one he thought he was signing up for, and a wife who is often unrecognisably different from the person he thought he was marrying. But who is going to believe him if he tells them what is happening, given he is a large ex-rugby player, and she is the merest slip of a woman? Before long the situation is taking its toll on Andy, who finds himself withdrawing from friends and family and having increasing difficulty coping at work.
"A Suitable Lie" by Michael J Malone is not an enjoyable book. But it is a compelling one: a book that draws you in and keeps you engaged as you witness events that are at times challenging and unpleasant. And as the pages turn you find yourself gripped by the desire to know how an increasingly impossible situation can be resolved. It's a sign of involvement when you find yourself urging Andy to address the issues confronting him, hoping against hope - and mounting evidence to the contrary - that he can somehow claw his way out of the increasingly deep hole in which he finds himself. Hoping against hope that he can win his way through to the better life he so obviously deserves. Does he succeed, and how are the central issues resolved? You'd not want us to spoil it for you...