Nick Dean loves his family. He has gorgeous wife and two beautiful young children. Life couldn’t be better – until it couldn’t get any worse. An acting coach who specialises in working with teenagers, one of his students has accused him of abuse. And everyone believes her, even – eventually – his wife. Nick swears he’s innocent but it seems that, despite there being no evidence, he is considered guilty until proved innocent.
Angela, Nick’s accuser, loves her family too, they just don’t make her happy. Her parents are divorced and she is struggling to cope with the break up. She’s eating too much and unhappy with how she looks. Kids at school pick on her and she reacts by striking out. The police look at her and see a vulnerable child very much at risk of being abused. She is believed immediately, as she should be, but then – after her first statement – refused to say more.
Told in alternating chapters between Angela and Nick, Little Liar lays out a story where it feels impossible for most of it to know just where the truth lies, and who is telling it. Both Angela and Nick seem credible and when you are reading their account of events, you believe them. It shows just how hard it must be for the police and social services to deal with these cases and why they often take a long time to come to court. There was a level of detail here that made me feel Ballantyne had done her research and I feel I actually learnt something about how the system works when it comes to child abuse cases.
However, I was also somewhat uncomfortable with the story being turned into what is essentially a domestic thriller. I know I’m probably in the minority here but it is such a serious topic and I just felt that because there was the obligatory twist at the end which turned everything on it’s head, it lost its power. It meant I was left feeling slightly empty and disappointed, which is a shame as the start of the novel worked really well for me and I thought Ballantyne did a great job of creating two very likeable and believable characters. Sorry!
About the book…
While Nick Dean is enjoying an evening at home with his family, he is blissfully unaware that one of his pupils has just placed an allegation of abuse against him – and that Nick’s imminent arrest will see the start of everything he knows and loves disintegrating around him.
Because, mud sticks, right? No matter if you’re innocent or guilty.
When Angela Furness decides that enough is enough – she hates her parents, hates her friends and, most of all, despises what has recently happened at school – she does the only thing she knows will get her attention: calls the police. But Angela is unaware that the shocking story she is about to tell will see her life begin to topple.
Because, once you’ve said what you’ve said, there’s no way back, right? No matter if you’re innocent or guilty.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Publication Date: 2/8/18
Number of Pages: 368
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Rating: 3 out of 5
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.