Truth Games by Caroline England #BookReview

She tries hard to be the perfect mother, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter – but Ellie never seems to get it right.

When an old friend from university re-enters her life, dark memories from Ellie’s past begin to resurface.

As Ellie starts to unravel some shocking and sinister realities, she realises that she must choose between keeping the family she loves – and facing the truth.

From the Top Ten ebook bestselling author, this twisty psychological thriller will have you hooked from the first page to the last jaw-dropping twist. 

It is such a pleasure to be sharing my review of Truth Games today, many thanks to Caroline England and Beth at Little, Brown for sending me an advance copy of the novel.

Ellie and Cam seem to have an almost perfect relationship; they met when they had rooms in the same house in their third year of university and although they lost touch for a few years, a chance meeting was enough to re-ignite the spark between them. Three sons and a lot of baby rabbits later, they might not be married but they appear to be solid. That is, until Sean, Cam's best friend and a fellow housemate from their uni days becomes a presence in their lives once again.
Truth Games opens with a prologue which features a group of students playing a drunken truth game. After a few of the unnamed characters reveal their secrets, one of the boys challenges a girl to disclose hers and that's where we leave them until much later in the book. Before we discover what she said, there are layers of intrigue, lies and omissions to be peeled away in this slow-burning, irresistible novel.
Fans of fast-paced thrillers might find Truth Games frustrating but it rewards its readers in different ways; Caroline England paints an intimate portrait of their lives, creating characters who are so believable, it's easy to forget they're fictional. They are flawed, complex people but as the story progresses, it feels as if we're getting to know who they are - and then she pulls the rug from under our feet with twist after twist - you may see one coming but I doubt you'll predict them all!
While Ellie's behaviour can be frustrating at times, especially her reluctance to confront issues head on, she is a character I could empathise and sympathise with. She is a good mother who works hard to support her sons, Toby, Jake and Harry and recognises their individual needs. I particularly enjoyed the compassionate, realistic portrayal of Jake, who is autistic. Others characters aren't as agreeable, most notably Cam and her father, Maurice. She experiences fraught relations with both the significant men in her lives; Maurice appears to have always been a cold, domineering presence, while Cam's apparent easygoing nature doesn't tell the whole story as to the person he really is. Her memories of Sean colour her interactions with him but as she begins to suspect she has been kept in the dark, could he hold the key to helping her unravel what really happened years ago?
As Ellie becomes increasingly concerned about what she isn't being told, her snatches of memories and disturbing dreams suggest something traumatic occurred in her past. It means there's a growing sense of trepidation and even after the first shocks, there remains a tantalising opacity to the proceedings in this intricately plotted, immersive thriller.
Truth Games is an irresistibly unsettling mystery, beautifully characterised and written with a deep, perceptive understanding of the facades people build to protect themselves from the horrors they are unable to confront. Suspenseful, surprising and engrossing from first to last, I thoroughly recommend it.

Last year I shared an extract from Truth Games, you can read it here.

Truth Games is published by Piatkus Books, purchasing links can be found here but please support independent bookshops whenever possible.

About the Author
Caroline England was born and brought up in Yorkshire and studied Law at the University of Manchester. She was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer before leaving the law to bring up her three daughters and turning her hand to writing. Caroline is the author of The Wife’s Secret, previously called Beneath the Skin, and the top-ten ebook bestseller My Husband’s Lies. Betray Her is her third novel. She lives in Manchester with her family.