Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers:
North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
About: Big Lies in a Small Town is a historical mystery fiction written by Diane Chamberlain. It was recently published on 1/14/2020 by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers, 400 pages. The genres are historical fiction and mystery. According to Macmillan’s website, “St. Martin’s Press has a long and respected history of publishing a solid and varied list. We are dedicated to publishing emerging new authors, and offering a fresh perspective on classic genres, while maintaining a diverse and interesting range of books.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Big Lies in a Small Town on 1/13/2020 and finished it on 1/19/2020 at 2:30am. This book is a fantastic read! One night I read all the way to 4:49AM! A book worth losing sleep over. The synopsis hooked me right away but when the story begins, the read has a slow buildup. Once I got to know the characters and the mystery, I just couldn’t read fast enough! I loved following Anna’s view because she has strengths to defend herself against bullies. I loved the suspense and mystery, mini cliffhangers at chapter ends, and the twists when little by little, hints are being revealed to readers. I haven’t read about mural painting and restoration yet so it’s interesting to learn of it.
This book started with a prologue dated 1940, following colored siblings running out to play when they stumbled upon a dead white man’s body. Then the story begins in the present, year 2018, told in the first person point of view following Morgan, art student who has been serving a prison sentence for a year. She’s approached by a daughter of a local well-known artist who recently passed away to restore a mural painted by Anna in an exchange for her freedom. Upon seeing the painting, Morgan was shocked and wondered why Anna had painted it that way. The alternating view was Anna, 22, a new art graduate, told in the third person point of view. In 1939, she won a contest to paint a mural for the government. Both ladies are of the same age where Morgan did something that landed her in prison while Anna did something that prevented her from submitting the mural to the government.
Big Lies in a Small Town is a must read! Definitely well written and developed. The story and the characters, both are awesome. The ending is excellent, one I couldn’t have guessed. I loved it when characters are smart and know what to do under pressure. In this case, Jesse and Nellie are my favorites. One puzzle I wonder is why Peter helped. He never knew what really happened. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story. I will for sure read this book again and I hope everyone will read it too!
Pro: suspense, mystery, fast paced, page turner, humor, friendship, family, art,
I rate it 5 stars!
About the Author:
Diane Chamberlain is the bestselling author of more than twenty novels published in over eleven languages. Her books include The First Lie, Her Mother’s Shadow, The Good Father, and Kiss River. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her shelties, Keeper and Cole. (Photo and info obtained from Macmillan’s website).