A Suitable Lie is, without a doubt, one of my top reads of this year. It is a book that made me feel very emotional and so sympathetic towards the main character Andy. Andy is a single father, bringing up his son Pat following the tragic death of his wife in childbirth. For the past few years, giving Pat a stable and secure home environment has been his life and he hasn’t really thought about having a long-term relationship. Until he meets beautiful Anna when he’s been dragged out to the local pub by his brother. Anna seems to be everything he needs and most importantly, loves his son Pat. The first hint that all is not well comes on his wedding night when he ends up in hospital with a broken nose. Andy is so desperate for his marriage to work that he comes to the conclusion that it was a one-off incident and forgives Anna. Sadly, it’s only the start of what Anna is capable of and soon Andy realises that he is trapped in his relationship.
It would be difficult, I think, for anyone not to feel sympathy for Andy and the very difficult situation he finds himself in. Domestic abuse is much more recognised these days with much more support for the victims. But the vast majority of victims tend to be women with men much less likely to experience it but also being very embarrassed to admit to being a victim. This is the position Andy finds himself in. He feels he doesn’t know Anna at all – “who was this woman I married? She was so small, I was so big.” – and thinks it is impossible for him to tell anyone about the abuse. It was upsetting to read the same kind of justifications that women often feel in these situations – it was my fault, I deserved it, I drove them to it – but to know that it would be even more difficult for Andy to admit his problems to anyone. Like anyone in this situation, he feels humiliated, unsure he would be believed and worried about what would happen to his family.
I thought the author wrote movingly about how several of the men in his book felt they had a certain image to maintain. They should be the strong ones in a relationship, the protector, able to look after themselves and their families. “We were both fighting with our own images of masculinity, we were both trying to overcome our self-pity and shame.”
I feel this is a really important book which shows that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, man or woman, and that it is never acceptable. It shines a light on the thoughts and emotions of the victims and shows just how difficult it must be to try to get out of an abusive relationship, especially if there are children involved. Michael J Malone has written a really brilliant, dark psychological novel which I found completely compelling and convincing. Despite the dark places Andy found himself in, I hope that anyone in a similar situation reading this book would find the courage to try to speak to someone before things get any worse, as they did for Andy. A disturbing yet compassionate book.
Thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of this book. A Suitable Lie was published as an ebook in 5th August and in paperback on 15th September. You can order a copy online here: A Suitable Lie
From the back of the book
Some secrets should never be kept… Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…