The Weight of Lies

The Weight of Lies

… the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.

Available June 6, 2017 - Preorder Now!

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About the Book

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

Details
Author:
Genres: Literary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Year: 2017
ASIN: B01M04OQWE
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“In this thriller, a tell-all about a celebrity novelist examines her most famous horror book, which may be more truth than fiction.

People often recognize 20-something Meg simply for being the daughter of renowned author Frances Ashley. The writer’s bibliography is extensive, but her 40-year-old debut, 1976’s Kitten, is her most revered tale. The story of a shocking island murder has reached cult status, and rabid fans known as Kitty Cultists litter the internet with fan fiction and conspiracy theories. One hypothesis, that Frances based her novel and characters on a real-life killing, is the reason the author’s new assistant, Asa Bloch, asks Meg to write a memoir. Though Asa genuinely wants proof that Kitten is thinly veiled nonfiction, Meg eventually agrees, seeing it as a chance to disclose her volatile relationship with a cold, neglectful mother. She heads to the tale’s setting, Ambletern Hotel, on an island off the Georgia coast. Dorothy Kitchens has since closed the hotel she inherited, having suffered harassment from fans who believe she’s the living counterpart of a murderous Kitten character. But what Meg finds on the island is a bevy of lies—and a killer who doesn’t want the truth uncovered. Carpenter’s (Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, 2016) convoluted but rousing plot piles on an array of storylines. There are soapy bits (a hush-hush lawsuit and Meg eying groundskeeper Koa and his abs); heaps of mystery (cryptic notes in a fan-notated copy of Kitten that Frances inexplicably has at her apartment); and too many suspicious characters to count. Carpenter deepens the intrigue by filling her pages with haunting, sometimes-ominous passages: “The worst thing my mother ever did, her gravest sin, wasn’t something I intended to share with anyone.” Meg’s a novice investigator, giving her first-person narrative credence; she’s just as surprised—reading her mom’s book for the first time—as readers will likely be, and her ideas generally come from TV shows like Law & Order. Carpenter amps the tension by paralleling Meg’s story with Kitten snippets prefacing each chapter—with both building toward revealing climaxes—and ties off the subplots with clarity and thoroughness.

Twists aplenty in this searing murder mystery should leave readers dizzy, in the best way possible.”

“Well-to-do New Yorker Megan Ashley, the unhappy narrator of this fascinating suspense novel from Carpenter (Burying the Honeysuckle Girls), is estranged from her mother, bestselling author Frances Ashley. Forty years earlier, Frances’s first novel, Kitten, became an instant hit, spawning millions of cult followers. The story told in Kitten is based on the murder of a child named Kim Baker, which occurred on Bonny Island off the Georgia coast, where young Frances was staying at a secluded hotel. While the murder was ascribed to Kim’s mother, Frances’s novel names eight-year-old Kitten, a character based on one Dorothy Kitchens, as the psychotic killer. Having gotten a deal to write a book about life with Frances, Megan travels to Bonny Island to interview Dorothy about how the novel affected her. With each shocking new discovery, the reader’s sympathies shift. Who can Megan trust? Her fast-talking agent? Her unreliable mother? Dorothy? The islanders who work for Dorothy? The multiple perspectives help make this an unputdownable read.”

“Carpenter follows up her unforgettable debut, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, with a gripping, heart-pounding murder mystery/gothic thriller sure to give readers chills. The Weight of Lies is a story within a story, as it contains excerpts throughout from the protagonist’s mother’s famous novel. These excerpts add layers to the mystery and heighten the suspense of the story. The characters are complex and well developed, the scenery is vivid, and the twists and turns will have readers guessing right up until the end. Some readers might find themselves favoring Carpenter’s sophomore novel over her debut. Either way, mystery lovers, don’t let this nail-biter of a good read pass you by!”

“Wicked Suspense with a Masterful Touch of Horror

Meg Ashley’s young life has been overshadowed by domineering mother Frances. Flamboyant, charismatic, and thoroughly self-absorbed, Frances Ashley’s claim to fame is having authored the iconic 70s horror novel Kitten. Categorized as fiction, dark rumors started by her legion of fans allege it to be more fact than imagination. Rumors ascribe the book’s plot to be based on an actual murder that took place on Bonny Island many years ago. When Meg is given a chance to get out from under her mother’s thumb by writing a tell-all book about life with the illustrious celebrity, it includes returning to the remote island and discovering what she can about the decades old killing. Although warned to stay away, an intrepid spirit and need for revenge for a miserable childhood burn brightly in her heart. They combine to override the very real possibility of the murderer still being alive and willing to do anything to keep the secret from being exposed.

The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter is a fantastically entertaining read! Ms. Carpenter is a sharpshooter of a wordsmith and terrific storyteller to boot. She weaves a tale that you will pull you into the maelstrom of this sinister world of lies and deceit, and you’ll love her for including you in it.

The central idea is brilliant, and made more so by the way Ms. Carpenter has chosen to let the story unfold. The chapters are written in tandem so we are treated to tastes of the fictional best-selling Kitten in between vibrant throbbing slices of Meg Ashley’s sojourn into the past. The clashes between mother and daughter reek of desperation and isolation from the most important person in their lives. The supporting characters are exceptionally well-defined, as is the chief suspect Doro Kitchens. Doro is the person that Frances’ cultish fans have pegged as Kitten, and finding out exactly how much she’s like the fictional character is half the fun.

There’s nothing I like better than a spidery dollop of the macabre with my mysteries, and that’s what happens here. I was screaming for Meg to get off that island from the moment she set foot on it, but luckily Ms. Carpenter didn’t listen and kept right on writing! The result is a story that’s rich, complex, and designed to let you simmer in the juices of intrigue. I sped through, turning pages as fast as I could process the clues, and guessing right along with Meg as to who did what to whom. What happens is made worthwhile by a slam bang of an ending that comes out of the cleverly crafted tale and slaps you silly.

Five stars to Ms. Carpenter and The Weight of Lies! Wait, does that make ten? Well, it should! I highly recommend picking this one up and sinking into a remarkably original story. Now all Ms. Carpenter need do is finish writing Kitten! I would love to purchase such a companion piece and keep them on my bookshelf as a matched set! Seeing her in a red wig and winging it in a Frances-type pose on the back cover would be too much!

In keeping with the rules of full disclosure, I received an ARC copy of this novel on NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.”

“Addictive psychological suspense + cult-classic horror nostalgia

The Weight of Lies might just be my perfect summer crime book. In this engaging, fast-paced psychological suspense novel, author Emily Carpenter blends the best of psychological thrillers with a unique touch of horror nostalgia. The Weight of Lies isn't a horror novel itself, but its cultural references and moments of cinematic suspense feel straight from the big screen. Love classic horror movies like Friday the 13th and Halloween, but want to read something a little less dark and gory on your summer vacation? This recommendation is for you. The Weight of Lies serves up a welcome dose of nostalgia for those horror classics, wrapped up in a contemporary psychological thriller package.

Plot Summary:
Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

There’s a whole lot to love about The Weight of Lies , but my personal favorite element of this addictive story is its modern, fresh ode to classic horror. I want to emphasize that this book is NOT a horror novel in and of itself—don’t pick this book up if that’s the kind of read you’re looking for. On the other hand, this book IS a very of-the-moment psychological thriller that pays homage to the horror genre-defining greats. More than anything else, The Weight of Lies is pure entertainment: it's a fresh twist on the psychological suspense novel, complete with a deliciously creepy atmosphere (a run-down hotel on a mostly-uninhabited island), a cast of suspicious characters, and a book-within-a-book mystery to solve.

The Weight of Lies follows Meg, the daughter of an author who, a few decades earlier, wrote a horror novel that has since become a cult classic: Kitten. As Meg begins to look into her mom’s past, she finds herself drawn into the world of Kitten—from the real-life events that inspired it to the legions of fans who have devoted themselves to her mother’s work. Our main character finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the maze that is her mother’s past, and I was completely along for the ride as she pieced together the real-life backstory of her mother’s fictional bestseller. Not only does this book delve into the details of what inspired Kitten, but the main narrative has horror-inspired elements of its own, from its vivid backdrop to its cinematic final showdown.

Speaking of Kitten—another element of The Weight of Lies that stood out to me comes in the form of “chapter excerpts” from Kitten interspersed throughout the main narrative. I loved watching the parallel development of these “chapter excerpts” and the main plot. I also have to acknowledge what a great job Carpenter did of writing these “chapter excerpts” in a voice that’s wholly believable. These excerpts really do sound like they’ve come from a decades-old horror novel—they have that certain atmosphere and tone that allowed me to picture them playing out on the big screen in a slightly-dated book-to-movie adaptation. I loved them.

The Weight of Lies might not be gory or very dark, but it serves up just the right balance of fast-paced, binge-worthy writing with lighter suspense and tension. Readers who are nervous about digging into a horror novel will have no problem with this book—yes, it has suspenseful scenes, but it’s not going to give you nightmares, as it definitely doesn't qualify as a horror novel itself. I absolutely devoured this book, and literally had to stop myself from reading too quickly because I didn’t want it to end! The Weight of Lies is pure entertainment: it’s gripping, addictive, accessible, and wholly entertaining. Add this book to your summer reading list! ”

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.