by Diane Chamberlain
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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?
Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain was a captivating tale that moved the reader between the past and the present, in this addictive mystery. One part mystery, one part historical, with a dab of art and a dose of southern charm.
I love slipping into one of Chamberlain’s books. I never really know what interesting tidbits I will discover, nor the characters I will meet. I was concerned when I first met Morgan Christopher. I have this habit of not reading the blurb. Had I done so, I would have realized immediately she was in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. However, I came to like this shy artist, and I quickly became caught up in her and the work she was doing.
The second character we meet is Anna Dale, and the year is 1940. Anna hails from New Jersey and has recently lost her mother, when she learns she has won a prestigious art contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Wanting to do the job right, she drives to the small town and ends up staying there while she paints.
The tale that unfolds weaves back and forth as Morgan restores a painting and Anna paints one. It was captivating, atmospheric and rich in details. Chamberlain not only paints a vivid picture of the south both past and present, she shines light on social ladders, rape, racism, mental illness, and more while giving readers a mystery to chew on.
The writing had a wonderful flow and the transition from past to present was seamless. Although admittedly I found myself compelled by both storylines, it was Anna’s that was gripping and had me on edge. In the end, the timelines came together, and rewards the reader with answers to lingering questions and a fitting ending.
Fans of historical fiction, southern fiction, character driven novels and mystery will delight in discovering Big Lies in a Small Town.
Celia K Phillips
Loved the extra information on the author. Also thought the review (and the book) quite good.
Wonderful review Kimberly. I can’t wait until I can get my hands on the audiobook so I can do a read/listen with this one.
Oh yes, while I was reading this, I kept thinking her books would be so good on audio!
Celia K Phillips
Her book Necessary Lies is EXCELLENT on audio… but maybe you already know that.
This sounds very good, glad you liked it. I’ve read her work before and enjoyed it.
Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra
I really loved this book too. As you mentioned, I just love how smoothly Chamberlain moves us from past to present and how both timelines were so compelling. I’ve only read two of her books so far but enjoyed those so much that I now want to read everything she has written. I just picked up a copy of The Silent Sister to try next.
I too, sometimes don’t read the blurb when it’s by an author I head over heels love and trust, and it is always entertaining to discover something that other readers might know right off the bat. It makes for a slightly different reading experience!
sometimes going back and forth, to past and present, can be awkward. sounds like this is the complete package.
Now, that is neat how a present day art restoration project can solve a past mystery. I suspect there are some great twists and the setting sounds vivid.
Anne - Books of My Heart
I don’t like much historical or life fiction but this one has enough mystery to grab me. Excellent review! And a plus that it’s set in NC.
I haven’t read this author before but it does sound like a good book.
Maureen @ Maureen's Books
This book sounds fantastic. I haven’t read a lot of fiction lately, but I love the sound of this one.
the style of the author looks great!
Debbie S Haupt
I like her books too Kim but it’s been awhile. I also love going from past to present to solve a mystery etc.. Hmmm maybe this is my way back to her. Thanks! Fab Review
I really liked this one, too! I kind of guessed early on how the two timelines would connect, but it was wonderful to see it all come together!
Same and I agree. 🙂
Wow what an articulate review for this book. I thought the two timelines were fantastic and melded so well. I like contemporary to historical yet I got really hooked into Anna’s story as well.