Author: EC Diskin
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Depth of Lies is an examination of the life of a woman, post-mortem, by her best friend who refuses to believe that she would deliberately end it all.
The death of Shea Walker in a bathtub in an inn on an island far from home comes as a shock to her friends and family. No one can believe that this feisty, vivacious woman would choose to die.
Hoping to both honour and celebrate her memory, Shea’s friends, Kat, Tori, Lina, Evelyn and Dee meet at Tori’s holiday home where they once enjoyed great getaways. Only Georgia is too distraught to join them. As they swap stories about Shea, Kat, who had moved to Texas several months earlier, realises that there were many secrets and lies that swirled around Shea, and that it seems as if she hardly knew her or any of her friends.
Kat, Shea’s closest neighbour and friend of 20 years, cannot understand these secrets, relating to the state of Shea’s marriage, her cheating husband, Ryan, and Shea’s own one night stand in response. On the island, Shea had flirted with a married man, Blake, who later that night died in a boating accident.
But Kat has a secret of her own. She cannot admit to the others that Shea had called her the night before she died and that she had ignored the call. Feeling guilty, Kat feels driven to find out more about her friend, believing that Shea was in distress, yet refusing to believe that her death was anything but an accident.
The story is written in the 3rd person past tense point of view of Kat and Shea. Kat’s narrative in the present time is interspersed with flashbacks from Shea’s life, four months before her death. Besides the story of Kat’s amateurish search for the truth, we also get to see the narrative of Shea and Ryan, of how Shea gamely held on to the marriage, hoping to keep it alive while Ryan strayed.
The story follows two timelines, Kat’s from April 8, when she comes to Maple Park for Shea’s funeral up to April 14, as she seeks to find out whether her friend’s death was an accident or murder. The book opens with Shea’s death on April 1, then goes back in time to November 24 the previous year when her life seems to be crumbling, leading up to her death.
Be warned – the pace is far from breathtaking. And while the mystery of what happened to Shea remains, this novel is more about relationships and the ensuring drama than it is about the death.
This drama caused the story to feel too long drawn, with Kat having her own set of issues with husband Mack complicating her life.
The author does a great job of bringing out the camaraderie between the women. This part sounded truest for me. But then we realise, that even in a group of girlfriends who’ve shared great times, the intensity of friendships changes over time. Little by little, the simmering tensions come to the surface. It was this element that kept me reading.
Nearly everyone in the book appears to be grappling with their own ifs and buts relating to Shea’s death, wondering if there was anything they could have done to prevent her death.
As the one who moved out of Ohio, Kat is the one most perfectly suited to sift through the lies and find the truth.
While the plot was entirely plausible, it would have benefited from tighter editing. Even though Shea dies on April 1, and the mystery is resolved on the 14th, it seems way too long.
But there were things I found annoying. There were portions when the conversations felt stilted and unreal, not like the way real people talk. I also found it odd that the women were all so easily blown away whenever a good-looking man complimented them and flirted with them.
The phrase, Ryan had a tell, was totally weird.
Kat too was annoying. There were several occasions when she seemed incapable of good judgement, of keeping her mouth shut.
The title was most apt. Kat sinks in deeper into the lies, wondering if she ever knew these people, much like Shea sank deeper into the water and met her end.
(I read a Kindle edition of this book through NetGalley.)