BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty

The other three books of Moriarty which I have read were all women’s fiction with an edge, but women’s fiction all the same.  Big Little Lies was for me soooooo much better.

Structured as a murder mystery, told in part with snippets of testimony, remarks of investigating officers, interviews with a journalist,  and opinions of the various cast of characters, it features three very different women, all mothers of children entering kindergarten in a small coastal town near Sydney.  The clique-ish mothers of the school are a foil for the three women friends, one a normal mom with a normal loving marriage, one a edgy single mom, and one a beautiful wealthy women, mother of twins.

On orientation day, the daughter of one of the pushy self-important women emerges crying inconsolably, claiming a boy tried to strangle her.  She shakily points to the son of the single mom, both of whom are then ostracized, he for bullying, although he adamantly denies it, and the mother for not forcing him to say sorry.

Things progress, as things do in novels, until the denouement, culminating at Parent’s Trivia Night at the school, where one parent is killed.  We do not learn who the deceased is until the very end.

It is about domestic violence, bullying, appearances, and friendship.    Although I enjoyed the other books,  this one I really really liked.

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FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN by Diana Anderson

famousEverybody writes series these days.  So it comes as no surprise that this is book one of the Entering Southern Country trilogy.   I didn’t know what to expect, but thought possibly I might be sorry I downloaded it.  But gotta say, I really liked it.

It is a bit of a genre-crosser, being part women’s fiction, part detective mystery, part thriller, and all parts pretty darn good.

A man of the small Mississippi town is out on his large acreage hunting when he comes upon a couple of men and a heavy dufflebag.  They dig a hole, bury the bag, and then one of them turns and shoots the other.  Later, the hunter goes back and digs up the bag.  No surprise, it contains money!  Lots of it.  A bit later, he and his wife are found brutally murdered in their doublewide.

Next we meet Raven, a successful author living in NYC.   And she receives a phone calll from her outrageously awful mother, telling her that her father is dead and she needs to return to the town to take care of funeral arrangements.   But Raven is not her original name.  Nosirreebob, and she returns to her old town using her old name, but somehow it is discovered that she is Raven, and that the most famous and successful of her books was a roman a clef detailing all the awful events from her childhood, fictionalized.  So the burning question around town was how much was true, how much was fiction?

Her awful mother had gotten some sweet older doctor to marry her, and she was now living in the lap of luxury.  And having a fine old time with the Mexican gardener.

Well, dear and gentle readers, the murder in the woods, the murder of the couple who found the money, (who was Raven’s father, by the by), the mother and her lover,  the sack of money, and the nice single sheriff, Raven and her despicable family, a kidnapping, are all tied up somehow in this, and the truth, the lies and the love affairs do make for some nifty reading.

(Just an interesting side note here.  Spell check wanted to change ‘dufflebag’ to ‘shuffleboard’.  So I looked it up, and actually, duffle bag is two words, but I am leaving it one word in the paragraph because I am delighted by the suggested alternative.