Book Review - A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone

Some secrets should never be kept…
Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own.  When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.
A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…

A Suitable Lie could have been a book that follows a familiar path telling as it does the story of somebody who believes they are lucky enough to find love for a second time, only to realise they're caught up in a nightmare and the person they thought would be their salvation is anything but. However, while sharing the elements of many books that look at domestic violence, this book has an important difference. A Suitable Lie looks at what happens when a man is the victim, how despite being bigger and stronger he finds himself at the mercy of a violent aggressor and what this does to him psychologically.
I loved how Michael J. Malone leads us gently into the nightmare, at first Andy and Anna's relationship seems almost perfect - too perfect as it turns out. The first signs that all is not as it should be set the warning bells ringing yet we understand why Andy is prepared to forgive, he is a good man, left bereft after the loss of his first wife and grateful for this second chance with a woman who loves his son as her own. Inevitably though the abuse escalates and as Andy's life spirals out of control we see how the sadly recognisable results of domestic violence - the self blame, the guilt, the secrecy - affects men. How, in a world that sees men as either aggressors or protectors, those who believe they don't meet society's demands on them are crippled by shame.
A Suitable Lie may be a work of fiction and as such is a superb domestic noir, the characterisation is top notch, the relationships, whether destructive, strained or blossoming are sharply observed and easily relatable, the action is gripping, this is a tense thriller; it's also a damning and timely look at how patriarchal values affect men, and how they too suffer from a world in which physical strength and dominance is seen as a necessary trait, and to act in way perceived as weak can lead men to abject despair. I believe books like this, books that break down barriers, that force difficult conversations and make us re-evaluate what we accept our society to be, are absolutely vital. A Suitable Lie is a must read, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

A Suitable Lie is published by Orenda Books. You can follow them on Twitter as @OrendaBooks and Michael J. Malone as @michaelJmalone1. Michael's website can be found here.

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.