#BlogTour: When Your Lies Catch Up With You: Lies Behind the Ruin by Helen Matthews

§ I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. § 

When everything comes crashing down and your old life is left in pieces ... what do you do? The Willshire family answered this question by moving to France. After a scandal at work Paul has found an old and ruined house to buy in rural France near Limoges and intends to leave his London life behind and resettle his family.

Things don't work according to plan: the house they bought needs more construction work and money they don't have. Emma has to leave her son, Owen, behind so he can stay with his biological father. Even so, the family picture is not as peaceful as it might seem since Paul's lies catch up with him even in another country  ...

Lies Behind the Ruin by Helen Matthews
"Lies Behind the Ruin" is told from different first person perspectives but mainly focuses on Emma. Paul and Owen's sides are shown when they help to expand the plot and shed further light onto the issues and confusion. Emma lives in a more peaceful worlds, unaware of the dirty business that comes to light when you follow Paul's POV.

These sides are told in first person mixed with stream of consciousness. Thus, the writing is less formal and includes phrases like "I popped it into my bag" which makes the reading light and easy. This doesn't reduce the tension in stressful moments. Due the story telling, you are able to feel Paul's sensation of being trapped in a situation or the pride Emma takes in running her bar.

While the different point of views are handled well and it is clearly marked who is talking, this telling technique may have taken away some of the suspense in regards to the Eve mystery. I could already predict the twist and until it happened it had been a guessing game if I had been right. This was the only twist I had suspected in advance and afterwards the book moves forwards quickly. One event follows the next, and drama piles on top of each other.

This contrasts the relaxed start of "Lies Behind the Ruin" which sets the scene. Sometimes it even gives a domestic feeling and you wonder if you picked up a "general fiction" novel by accident. This means that the book is not fast paced. Instead it deludes you into a false sense of security before reminding you of the thick air between Emma and Paul, and Paul's lies that come back to haunt him.

Lies Behind the Ruin by Helen Matthews
Despite this, I enjoyed that Matthews didn't try to "out-drama" herself. While some thrillers and suspense books try to reach as deep as possible into the drama box, in "Lies Behind the Ruin" the faults are human ones. She focuses on the mistakes people make and how those can create and destroy everything you tried to achieve. The story seems almost realistic, it gives you the feeling that if things are just slightly different Emma's story could happen to you as well.

On top of this, I enjoyed Emma as a character. She starts of as an almost supportive character who doesn't want to depend on her husband but in the end has to follow his lead. At least until they are in France and Paul returns to London for work. Then she finds her feet and confidence by not only being a mother but also running a successful business while juggling her private life. By the end of the book, it feels as if Paul is the supportive character who is depended on Emma.

"Lies Behind the Ruin" is also the first book I read that uses Brexit as a plot device since the Willshire family are British citizens who emigrated to France but can't apply for a permanent visa yet. This is an ongoing subplot throughout the book and towards the end, it is still not resolved but Emma feels ready and confident that even if they won't be able to remain in France that she is going to run a successful pub in London as well. This marks the final and most important step in her character development.

Overall, "Lies Behind the Ruin" provides an easy to read suspense thriller which becomes a lot faster towards the end. Despite the positives, I felt that the beginning was too slow and too long because it takes up to until half of the length before the pieces fall into place and the story line begins to unfold.

Lies Behind The Ruin by Helen Matthews
Published2019 by Hashtag Press
Pages: 352
Goodreads:Add to shelf


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About Helen Matthews 

Helen Matthews is the author of Lies Behind the Ruin, a contemporary suspense novel set in France, to be published in April 2019 by Hashtag Press. Her debut novel After Leaving the Village, published in 2017, won first prize for the opening pages of a novel at Winchester Writers’ Festival. Born in Cardiff, she read English at the University of Liverpool and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. Helen’s short stories and flash fiction have won prizes and been published in Reflex Fiction, Ad Hoc, Artificium, Scribble and Love Sunday. Her freelance journalism has been published in the Guardian and broadcast on BBC radio. She is an ambassador for Unseen, a charity that campaigns to end human trafficking and modern slavery.

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  1. This sounds like an interesting plot, I have to admit that I avoid all things Brexit. Your review was great to read and helpful.

    1. I can understand why that would put you off, when you are directly effect by it :/

  2. I think it's interesting that it used Brexit as a plot device. I don't think is book is for me though. Great review!

  3. I read this one too, it was a slowly developing tale that took me a while to gel with

  4. I've been there recently with a book that took until just over 50% of the way through the book before everything started to move on and fall into place. Not good. Great review.

    1. Thank you! I don't mind a bit of an intro but halfway through ....

  5. Great review. Too bad you didn't love it. Hope your next read is better!

  6. Sounds like an interesting one!


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