When you don’t know whom to trust or who is telling the truth, the world can be a scary place. In “To Tell You the Truth,” by Gilly Macmillan, not only does main character Lucy Harper not know who is telling her the truth, or whether she can trust her best friend and alter ego Eliza, but we don’t know if we can trust what Lucy is telling us in her first person narrative.
Lucy is an established author. She has written a popular detective series featuring Eliza, a character created from the imaginary friend she had as a child and who is still part of her life. A very real part. But in Lucy’s fourth book, she veers from her successful formula, much to the consternation of her husband, who acts as her assistant and enjoys living a luxurious life thanks to Lucy’s hard work and that of her agent and publicist.
In fact, Dan surprises Lucy with a new, very expensive home, on a private street near where she grew up. Lucy does not want to live there, but the deed is done. Is Dan getting revenge for the fact that Lucy is the acclaimed and successful author as he once aspired to be? He now works as her assistant and handles all the finances. Yes, we smell a fish!
But all that becomes minor, at least to Lucy, when her husband disappears one night after they’ve had an argument. To tell the truth, we aren’t sad that Dan leaves in a huff because he’s not very likable. But what we don’t know is whether Lucy is involved in his disappearance. We also don’t know what really happened thirty years before when Lucy’s little brother Teddy disappeared one night. We know that Lucy was with him in the wee hours of the morning, but we also know she lied about what happened. She lied to her parents, and she lied to the police. Is she also lying to us?
Things happen and Lucy reacts stupidly. We wince at some of what she shares with the police. But we really don’t know what happened to Dan, what happened to Teddy all those years ago, and why some of her neighbors are acting a bit off.
Lucy decides she’s not going to leave Dan’s disappearance to the police to solve and begins to investigate on her own. How much of what she tells us is the truth? Can we trust Lucy? Can we trust Eliza?
Macmillan does a masterful job leading us in one direction while subtly indicating that the truth is not that easy to figure out. There are twists that we don’t expect, of course, and just as in real life, there are mysteries left unsolved.
This review was first published on Bookreporter.com.