Lying Next to Me
April 29, 2024

Book Review

Lying Next to Me

reviewed by Pam Guynn

With Lying Next to Me, Gregg Olsen has penned a dark and character-based mystery. Three historic cabins are rented for Memorial Day weekend at Hood Canal in Mason County, Washington.

Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter Aubrey have arrived to unplug and to work on their marriage. In a nearby cabin is Teresa Dibley and her two grandchildren. The third cabin has another couple, Kristen and Connor Moss. While Adam and Aubrey are out on the water, he sees Sophie abducted by a stranger. The only comforting thing about the situation for Adam is that one of the detectives is Lee Husemann, an old friend of his. However, things aren’t what they seem and lies abound.

Many, but not all, of the characters are unlikeable in this story. Adam puts his work ahead of his family. He doesn’t usually show his feelings to others, and he likes to be in control. Sophie is confident, but keeps things insides and has mood swings. Detective Lee Husemann likes to be right, likes to solve puzzles, and usually does things by the books. Can she put her history with Adam aside and be unbiased in the investigation? Lee’s partner, Detective Zach Montrose, seems quick to jump to conclusions. Kristen is smart, in line for a partnership at her Seattle law firm, desperately wants a child, and is intense. Connor has an alcohol problem and tends to be malleable. Teresa is concentrating on her grandchildren and trying to get custody of them.

The characterization and atmosphere in this novel are great. Readers get a good feeling for them and the intensity of the situation. However, the story alternates points of view between four different characters. While the chapters are labeled with the characters’ names, this back and forth adversely affected the flow. My second quibble is that the book also includes flashbacks without any warning. Despite this, the story is a quick read that has several puzzles that need to be put together. Can Lee and Zach solve the case?

The plot is somewhat dark and twisty with a few surprises along the way. The clues are there, but it took me a while to put them together. Several threads are woven throughout the story including, but not limited to, lies, secrets, trust, friendship, betrayal, marriage, and desire for a child.

Overall, this novel was intriguing and compelling with unreliable narrators and a somewhat slow place. I prefer the author’s Detective Megan Carpenter series, but am looking forward to my next book by Olsen.

I purchased a copy of this novel. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Mass Market Paperback edition. Publication date was April 25, 2023.

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