Book Review: Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister (published by Penguin)
This psychological suspense thriller is a good read, which starts with the action and intrigue immediately. Rachel is pregnant with Jack’s child. The couple have only been together for a few months and are trying to learn everything about each other before the baby arrives. Rachel accidentally sees an email in the middle of the night that implies Jack has a dark history, one which he hasn’t told her about. She sets off on a compulsive and obsessive mission to find out – but the thing is, Rachel also has a secret…
The story is told from Rachel’s point of view, and I enjoyed seeing her scouring the internet, asking loaded questions of Jack, analysing his friends’ and family’s behaviour / words. She pretty much acted how I would if I suspected a partner wasn’t being honest with me, but then, it did get a bit extreme! And this was due to her history: her mother’s recent death and what they discovered about her after; her paranoia with the previous boyfriend; the reason she quit her last job as a doctor etc. She also had a handy lawyer friend who helped to feed Rachel’s obsession.
I enjoyed the setting – in Newcastle and Oban in Scotland, and also thought the characterisation was brilliant. I could relate to all of the characters, they seemed very real and believable. Rachel’s inner thoughts were plausible and convincing, so her action was completely understandable. Also, Jack didn’t help himself, and some of his behaviour was suspicious.
The writing flows effortlessly and is easy to read. I liked how the text was broken up with snippets from the internet, newspaper reports, Facebook updates etc. Although I wasn’t sure why each had the heading ‘Item 1… Item 2… Item 3’ etc.
There are a couple of reasons that this didn’t score higher for me. Firstly, it seriously dragged around the three quarters mark. I think the word ‘lie’ or it’s variations (lying, lied, lies etc), was used about a zillion times in a few pages (ok, I’m totally exaggerating, but the repetition did get annoying!). Rachel’s inner thoughts at some points read like she was much younger and immature than her late twenties, which jarred with her professional and decidedly mature actions at the hospital when she was a doctor. Also, some of the dialogue between Jack and Rachel seemed a bit childish to me. Plus, I felt that Jack was a bit too forgiving of Rachel at the end…
I’d recommend this for people who enjoy reading about a realistic situation that makes you think “what would I do if that was me?” and “I totally would react in exactly the same way”. You spend the entire book inside Rachel’s mind, which is great if you like her (I did) but not so great if you don’t, as it could become quite suffocating.
My rating: 3/5
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