ARC Review: The Darkest Lie

The Darkest Lie
The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death surface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

This mystery tale of a whodunit wasn’t as mysterious as it was supposed to be. For starters, if you were picking up the clues in the obvious plot, it wasn’t really hard to figure out the culprit, even with the red herrings sent in to misdirect. I was more annoyed at CeCe for being so stupid and spineless, and not doing anything about it until the stakes were higher. She starts investigating for a suicide note, but stumbles on a murder cover-up, which makes me wonder how incompetent the cops had to be for a teenager (Sam) to see that it wasn’t suicide, but murder. Speaking of Sam, it was weird that he wasn’t more worried about his sister being predated upon – like, dude, you know a guy is asking your sister for nude pics, and your response is to send in your girlfriend to sort it out?

The mystery part aside, the book was good. The writing was detailed, heightening those moments of terror, describing her paranoia (is it really paranoia if the threat is real? hmm) and her fear. Her bullying was also depicted naturally, but I do feel angry that they weren’t punished hard enough. The ending felt a bit anticlimactic, and didn’t tie in well with the rest of the story – partly because I was expecting it, and partly because I expected a greater deal of engineering from a person who made a murder look like a suicide. Anyhow, it is still well-written, and has it moments, and it was fun to follow the clues. In conclusion, a mildly satisfactory book.

Received a free galley from Kensington Books, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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