Post Script: Lie Still – Julia Heaberlin

Lie Still

A Novel

Julia Heaberlin

Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell


ISBN: 9780345527042



In the tradition of Lisa Unger’s Beautiful Lies and Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning comes a twisting, riveting novel of shifting trust and shattered lives. Lie Still delves deep into the heart of an opulent Southern town, where gossip is currency and secrets kill.

When Emily Page and her husband move from Manhattan to the wealthy enclave of Clairmont, Texas, she hopes she can finally escape her haunted past—and outrun the nameless stalker who has been taunting her for years. Pregnant with her first child, Emily just wants to start over. But as she is drawn into a nest of secretive Texas women—and into the unnerving company of their queen, Caroline Warwick—Emily finds that acceptance is a very dangerous game.

It isn’t long before Caroline mysteriously disappears and Emily is facing a rash of anonymous threats. Are they linked to the missing Caroline? Or to Emily’s terrifying encounter in college, years earlier? As the dark truth about Caroline emerges, Emily realizes that some secrets are impossible to hide—and that whoever came for Caroline is now coming for her.

 My View:

This was an exciting, fast paced read that kept me guessing until the final reveal.  Heaberlin creates a strong, empathetic female protagonist and a cast of rich and entertaining minor female roles – the women of “The Club”.  Secrets, allegiances, trust, are all themes that lace and entwine throughout this book, some secrets are so huge that carrying them around is a death sentence.

I love that Heaberlin uses this book as a positive vehicle to discuss rape and in particular the date rape – a crime about power that involves so much guilt and stigma that many victims do not even report or discuss with anyone. Date rape IS a crime. We need more books, more discussions, more opportunities to support such victims and this book creates a voice that is accessible and will be heard because this is not a book of ranting and ravings and man hating rhetoric – this is a mystery/crime novel that tells a personal story of courage. This story stunned me by starting with these sentences “For me, the rape is a permanent fixture on the clock, like midnight. A point of reference. I was nineteen and four days old.” (p. 13)   What a bold and powerful and honest way to start this crime novel. A simple statement that had me hooked, it had me intrigued from the first words, in crime novels women are often the victims of crime but they are not often the protagonist  because of the crime – we do not often get an opportunity to feel their  emotional and psychological  pain ( yes we often get vivid pictures of physical pain and injuries and deaths in crime novels),  but we dont often see victims on their long journey to restoration,  this is a great way of turning the dynamic upside down, giving power back to Emily. An ultimately this is what Emily succeeds in doing – she stands up for herself. She is powerful. (There are no spoilers here.)

The reader is engaged in a very cinematic view of the town, the inhabitants, and the characters. The prologue is beautifully descriptive and chillingly eerie. I can see the mountain, I can see forest floor. The image of the dirty, discoloured and scratched plastic child’s ring is ominous.  It is an omen of decay and death; very visual, very engaging.  The realm of secrets, trusts, conspiracies and blackmail are pared open for all to see. The dynamics of relationships are laid bared. This is a very well constructed mystery /thriller; with engaging characters, a taught narrative combined with elements of humour that make this a most satisfying and thought provoking read.  I look forward to reading Heaberlin’s earlier book Playing Dead.

One thought on “Post Script: Lie Still – Julia Heaberlin

  1. Sounds like a really powerful read. Tom Vowler’s What Lies Within is also about the after-effects of rape, and although written by a man, I thought he got inside the female mind amazingly well. Another woman who refused to allow the rape to make her into a permanent victim.

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