Book Review: The Worst Lie by Shauna Bickley

Title: The Worst Lie (A Lexie Wyatt Mystery Book 2)

Author: Shauna Bickley

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: December 9, 2019

Genre: Mystery and Suspense

Summary: Lexie’s friend Helen needs her help: Helen’s university friend Eden is coming to visit and wants the whole university group to spend a weekend together in Little Stillford, just as they had days before their friend Madelaine was found dead, something that brings great anxiety to Helen. Lexie is there to soothe her, and soon finds herself enlisted by Eden to find out who murdered Madelaine over a decade before. Before she knows it, Lexie and her husband Nathan become entangled in the group, who have more secrets than Lexie could have possibly known, and a cold case that holds a cloud over them.

When the author contacted me for a review, I had just been thinking I needed more mysteries in my life, so I knew I had to read this book. I hadn’t realized it’s the second book, but, while I would have liked to have read the first book first, I don’t think it was strictly necessary. Of course, now I probably will try to find time to read the first book because I really enjoyed Lexie and Nathan that much. And because this book did not disappoint!

The Characters: So Many Fun Personalities

I really enjoyed the characters. Most of them had very distinct personalities, so it was easy to see them mesh and clash. It was also a lot of fun to see the group of university friends together as it often brought out secrets and the worst in them. My one complaint about them was that Laurence was essentially no one in the story, though I can see how his presence was necessary, and Nathan felt very one note, though perhaps that’s because we didn’t get to see him much.

My favorite part of the characters was that there were flash backs to the friends’ university days. It was fun to see what they had been like and how they did or didn’t change. I especially liked that it often felt like things hadn’t changed once they’d gotten back together years later. It was so easy for them to slip back into old roles and relationships, and it created some really great tension and further swirls around the mystery.

As a whole, the characters meshed really well together. I was disappointed the children weren’t seen much, but what little was provided showed they had some really interesting and fun personalities. Overall, I loved the characters. They were fun and consistent. Their relationships were realistic, and so was the drama.

The Setting: The Very Lovely Modern Day England

Well, since I’m currently stuck at home and travel has basically come to a standstill, I couldn’t have read this book at a better time. It takes place in Dorset and Wiltshire in the England, and one of the locations is at a standing stones site! No, it isn’t Stonehenge, which I’m really glad of, but a smaller site that is more accessible to visitors. It was so much fun to be able to explore the stones and the village near it from the comfort and safety of my own home, though I can’t wait to be able to get back out there and actually go there one day.

I was so delighted by just how proper and British this book is, and the setting really did it credit. It was quaint and neat, and I found it to be perfectly delightful. Well, the mystery part with all the bodies wasn’t really neat, but, even then, I loved just how tidy it all was. I adored the feeling that I was stepping into England every time I turned on my Kindle, and was so sad when it was over because then I was suddenly back in the US. I still find my mind wandering back to the woods, the standing stones, the open land Lexie walks with her beautiful dog Max; it’s that atmospheric and well-described.

The Plot: A Cozy, Suspenseful Mystery

This was such a delightful mystery. It was cozy and suspenseful. I enjoyed the twists and turns and never knowing quite who to believe. I liked that extraneous information wasn’t strewn in and that there were enough characters to keep things interesting. There was so much going on, but it never felt overwhelming. Each piece led, step by step, to the end, which made excellent sense and for a really fantastic, unexpected end. I really loved that I put myself into knots wondering if Helen was involved or not.

There were so many layers to the mystery. Every so often it did feel like I was having a hard time catching up to Lexie, but then there would be that “ah ha” moment and everything would just start falling into place, until something shattered it. This wasn’t a simple mystery, and I loved the light touches of complexity thrown in. Overall, though, I really loved how cozy and utterly proper it felt. It’s a far cry from a gritty thriller, but perhaps that’s why I love this book so much. It’s fun and pleasant despite the deaths.

I found the story to be riveting and clear. Once in a while it felt like it was deviating, but it always proved to be perfectly placed and logical. I did fear it was going to become too heavy with layers and collapse on itself, but that never happened. Bickley clearly had a deft hand when crafting this mystery and it made complete sense. Overall, a delightful mystery!

Overall: One of the Best Mysteries I’ve Read

I don’t know if I made my message clear enough: I loved this book. From the characters to the setting to the perfect mystery, it was perfectly quaint and charming. Mystery and charming don’t usually go together, but I can’t think of any better way to describe it. I had a ton of fun reading it and was so often torn between wanting to finish it to find out who did it (I was wrong so many times!) and just wanting to stay in the book. If you’re looking for a pleasant, cozy mystery or just a book that can take your imagination somewhere, I highly recommend this one!

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups, most definitely

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Thank you to the author, Shauna Bickley, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my other book reviews.

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