Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain
by Esme Addison
I am always on the prowl for a good southern drama. Something atmospheric, full of characters you can only find down south and with a plot full of angst and drama. Diane Chamberlain, who resides in North Carolina specializes in these types of stories.
I’ll admit she’s a new to me author, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’ve never heard of her before. But thank goodness I discovered her latest book aptly named Big Lies In A Small Town.
Here’s the blurb:
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?
One of my favorite books of 2020, this novel is told in alternating points-of-view and in dual timelines. It’s a slow simmering story with gorgeous writing and deft characterization that will have you yearning to know how the story ends but not wanting the story to stop.
Chamberlain does a wonderful job of creating the picturesque town of Eden in both historical and contemporary times. There is a sense of foreboding as we meet characters and the backstory of the characters unfold.
The ending is both bittersweet and satisfying, and an excellent example of precisely what southern fiction should be, filled with the South as an integral character of the story, the pace slow as molasses in the wintertime and still just fast enough to keep the reader engaged.
Big Lies In A Small Town is both a character study and a mystery that delves deep into the complicated world of a small town.