When you are in a Southern crime fiction mood you just have to roll with it! After compiling some nice looking Southern mysteries last month I had no other option but to read Emily Carpenter’s The Weight of Lies. The novel came to my attention after a good friend swore it was the perfect reading when you are in a Gillian Flynn hangover – yes, that’s a thing – and I have to say, she was 100% right.
The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter is a fast-paced mystery that tells the story of Meg Ashley, daughter to Frances Ashley, a best-selling author idolised by her 1970’s cult horror novel Kitten. Frances’ success came from her masterful combination of all the horror clichés of the time: An evil kid, a house in a lonely and remote location, stereotypical characters, and a bloody crime involving Native American culture. Yes, that’s all The Shinning, And Then There Were None, and Pet Sematary references in just one novel!
Despite the fame and money that came from her mother’s success, Meg is not happy with her party-girl lifestyle and she longs for something of her own. But meanwhile, this will not prevent her to enjoy everything her mother’s money can buy. Her relationship with Frances is, as expected, troubled, and when Meg gets to her mother’s NYC apartment to find her mother gone, her anger reaches new levels. So much so, that when France’s creepy new assistant offers Meg the possibility of telling her side of the story by going back to Kitten‘s real-life location, she agrees, packs her Louis Vuitton bags and jets to the dark and mysterious South looking for answers.
This novel is PERFECT for fans of contemporary dark and twisty US fiction. The influence of Flynn’s Sharp Objects is more than clear in Meg’s journey to the South to investigate a crime. But in her relationship with her mother is also central to the narrative. Like Aurora in Flynn’s novel, Frances is a powerful and complex woman whose interests do not always ally with her daughter’s. This has taken a toll on their relationship, though there is more to Frances and Meg’s story than the clashing of two very different personalities.
But The Weight of Lies is more tied to the Southern Gothic tradition than Flynn’s novel. This, in combination with the crime fiction element, results in darker and bloodier scenes than your average crime novel has to offer. Thankfully, they serve to counteract Meg’s cheesy and bratty first-person narrative allowing the reader some deeply rooted vengeance against her (she’s that insufferable). She is not a likeable character, but her real problem is that she tries too hard to be, which is pretty much the only complaint I have about the book.
The Weight of Lies is the perfect novel for fans of Gillian Flynn and Megan Miranda. It’s a quick and easy read that will satisfy your autumn and Halloween’s reading necessities for some mystery, darkness and blood.