Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

January 23rd, 2020 Kimberly Review 15 Comments

23rd Jan
Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain
Big Lies in a Small Town
by Diane Chamberlain
Genres: Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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?

historical mystery Southern well written

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.

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About Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 24 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters. Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home. Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw and Howler. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Find @kimbacaffeinate on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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15 Responses to “Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain”

  1. Carla

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Sophia Rose

    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.

  4. Angela

    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!

  5. Kathryn Trask

    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.