Tell Me Lies by Teresa Driscoll

Today I am sharing my thoughts on Tell Me Lies, the brand new thriller from Teresa Driscoll. My thanks to Kashmini Shah from FMcM Associates for inviting me to read the book and to publisher Thomas & Mercer for the advance copy. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 18 April 2023
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

About the Book

From bestselling author Teresa Driscoll comes a chilling thriller of past secrets and present terror. Deep in a rural hideaway, it’s only the owls watching them…right?

After a betrayal that sent their marriage into freefall, Hannah and Sam are desperate for a fresh start with their eight-year-old daughter Lily—and where better than picture-perfect Owl Cottage in beautiful Cornwall. But something about the holiday home stirs dark memories for Hannah…

When she finds dead creatures on the doorstep and hears mysterious knocks at the door, Hannah can’t help wondering whether someone is messing with her—or whether the past she’s been running from has finally claimed her sanity.

As the disturbing events at Owl Cottage seep out into the local community and the police become involved, Hannah turns to Sam for help, but when he dismisses her worries, she wonders if she was wrong to ever trust him. Are the memories making her paranoid, or is this something more sinister than she dares imagine?

My Thoughts

I’ve been making a point of trying to mix up my reading this year, with a few new to me authors dotted in amongst my old favourites, and Teresa Driscoll is another of the people whose work I am aware of, and who was always recommended, but I had never read. Fixed that problem now as I devoured Tell Me Lies, her latest psychological thriller, in just a matter of hours.

In the story we meet Hannah and Sam, a couple whose marriage is going through a particularly rough patch. In an attempt to give them and their daughter, Lily, a break from the norm, and Hannah and Sam a chance to rekindle whatever is left of their marriage, Hannah books them a relaxing vacation by the coast. At least … it should have been relaxing, but when a series of strange things start to happen around the cottage, and Lily starts acting out of character, Hannah begins to think that the break away might not be the refresh she was hoping for. Igniting flashbacks to a troubled childhood, Hannah is pushed to the very brink with no one left to turn to.

I really enjoyed reading this book. There is a steady undercurrent of unease, a sense that something strange and sinister is going on right from the off. There is a natural tension between Sam and Hannah that Teresa Driscoll has captured perfectly, but there is also just something about the whole set holiday that sets you on edge. A cottage that’s almost too perfect, and on top of that suitably isolated for all manner of ill deeds to occur – it’s the perfect set up for a very tense week, and what a tense seven days they turn out to be. From a frosty welcome from locals who are still bitter about the sale of the cottage to investors rather than residents, and the foreboding woods which surround Owl Cottage, there is little to help Hannah settle into their temporary home. And that’s even before the fun really begins.

Hannah was a bit of a difficult character to get to grips with at first. The story is told largely from her point of view, interspersed with chapters told from Sam’s perspective, and some scenes which take us back to the couples counselling that they are undergoing back home. The more we move into the story though, the more I understood Hannah’s tense demeanour and the more I fell into step with her perspective and take on things. That’s not to say that everything that Hannah thinks or experiences is as straight forward as she might believe, but as the injured party in Sam’s infidelity, her shortness with him and her quickness to anger are believable and well portrayed. But really, it is as we start to understand her history, what has drawn her so quickly to choose Owl Cottage as their sanctuary away from home, that I found it much easier to understand and empathises with her point of view and some of her character quirks.

This is a very twisted tale and the more you read into the book, the more twisted it seems to become. There are many dark revelations towards the end of the book, and escalation in both tension and drama that really picks the pace up. In truth this is quite a fast paced book to read, none of the chapters overly long, and it really does just drive that one more chapter compulsion, that kept me blasting through the book right to the final page. There are a real mixture of supporting characters, some who get the hackles up and create a sense of mistrust, and others, such as DI Melanie Sanders, who are far easier to like. I liked Melanie – her curiosity over what was going on up at Owl Cottage mirrored my own and she was almost like a mirror image of the reader, trying to get a handle on a very strange set of circumstances.

This book is perfect for fans of a nice, twisty, psychological thriller, ones with characters you can love, hate and who can make you feel completely uneasy. There are a few shocks to be revealed at the end, moments which really cast a dark shadow over everything that has come before, and emotional scenes as Hannah finally confronts the parts of her past that she had been blocking out for years. It all adds up to a book that entertains, enrages and engages from start to finish, one where nothing is as it seems. Can’t wait to read more by the author now.

About the Author

For more than twenty-five years as a journalist—including fifteen years as a BBC TV news presenter—Teresa Driscoll followed stories into the shadows of life. Covering crime for so long, she watched and was deeply moved by all the ripples each case caused, and the haunting impact on the families, friends and witnesses involved. It is those ripples that she explores in her darker fiction.

Teresa’s novels have sold more than two million copies and have been published in twenty languages. She lives in beautiful Devon with her family.

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