In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely…
When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.
And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.
While Little Black Lies is a welcome respite from the Lacey Flint series, it wasn’t one of my favourite Bolton books. Set on the Falkland Islands about twelve years after the war, Little Black Lies seems like it is going to be a crime story about missing boys but it is actually more to do with the grieving process and how the three main characters mistakenly perceive each other. Divided into three narratives, we witness the events unfold from three different angles which allows us to understand why certain assumptions, good or otherwise, are being made. Each of the main characters has their own particular cross to bear, some more than one, which is slowly revealed as the plot unfolds.
As with her previous novels, Bolton leads us down many wrong paths to keep us guessing but for once the plot didn’t really ring true to me as I found the initial accusations against Catrin to be too much of a stretch. The portrayal of the police department also disappointed me as they were made to look stupid by their unwillingness to accept the possibility one of their own is a child killer, yet, much later, they seem overly keen to accept Catrin’s guilt despite the fact she is a native islander too. Normally, I think Bolton portrays the police in a realistic way but I just found them too absurd here. Once Catrin is arrested for allegedly abducting Rachel’s son, everyone seems to forget the other boys and no clear motive for their abduction is ever established. Her motive for kidnapping Rachel’s son is clear since she was so eager to exact revenge on Rachel but why the other boys? When we do revisit the abduction thread, there is an almighty twist but it just left me totally unmoved because it seems pointless and is not explained properly.
While I didn’t care for the criminal elements of the plot very much, I did find the psychological factors far more interesting and it was intriguing to see how the characters were fooling themselves as well as each other. The final confrontation between Rachel and Catrin wasn’t as explosive as I thought it would be but it was satisfying enough given the safety of a child was involved. There are a lot of factors to be overcome before any of the characters can move on with their lives but most readers will be satisfied by their respective outcomes.
The setting is always an important part of Bolton’s novels and Little Black Lies is no exception, with the wildness of the landscape and the remoteness reminding me a lot of Sacrifice which was set on the Shetlands. And it’s not everyday you read a novel set in the Falklands!