Review: All the Beautiful Lies

image1 (10)Title: All the Beautiful Lies

Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

“People hate to see other people happy. Remember that.”

I’d heard nothing but great things about Peter Swanson’s writing since I decided to read All the Beautiful Lies this month, and while it might be my first novel from him, I could tell very quickly that it certainly won’t be my last.

We follow Harry Ackerson as he returns home from college and attempts to unravel the truth behind his father’s unexpected death. In doing so, he stumbles upon secrets that reveal that Bill Ackerson may not have been the man Harry thought he was and that there may be more to his stepmother, Alice, than meets the eye.

The plot bounces between narrators and timelines, following Harry’s probings in the present but also exploring the nuances of Alice’s complicated past. I found both Harry and Alice to be incredibly well-rounded (albeit in very different ways), and while the plot was a bit of a slow burn, the character-driven writing had me enraptured from the start. Swanson has a wonderful talent for making his characters real and believable even when delving into the most discomforting of motives and desires.

This book is dark and twisted, and its pages are stained by lust and manipulations of all forms. It’s certainly a slow burn, but that’s not to say it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat with questions the whole way through. Even if I found certain twists to be rather predictable, the focus on the characters and exploring the inner workings of their minds made it worth it. I had so much fun with All the Beautiful Lies and the uncomfortable themes it explores.

Swanson poses the dangerous question of how well you truly know the people in your life, and it was chilling to watch the lengths to which these characters would go for misplaced love and loyalty. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more of Swanson’s work in the future!

All the Beautiful Lies is out next month! Thank you to William Morrow for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Author: Kaila

My name is Kaila, and I'm a bibliophile with a love of traveling and adventure. When I'm not buried in a book - preferably mysteries, thrillers, and fantasies - you'll find me at work as a software engineer or training as an amateur Muay Thai fighter ... no dull moments here!

21 thoughts on “Review: All the Beautiful Lies”

      1. I read Her Every Fear and didn’t like it. I really enjoyed the first half but the second half retold the story from other characters. It was super repetitive. I also read The Kind Worth Killing and I liked it better but it didn’t wow me. There are a ton of amazing reviews for his novels and I know I’m in the minority!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, how interesting about Her Every Fear – that’s such a tricky and risky writing style! Too bad it fell flat for you. I’ve had my eye on The Kind Worth Killing, too, though!


  1. I really like the sound of this one. I love character driven stories and I like what you said about people not being who they seem. I like such kind of books. Great review, Kaila. This one goes to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, Diana, I’m so glad to hear! Character driven mysteries and thrillers are very quickly becoming my favorite types of books, and All the Beautiful Lies definitely hit that checkbox! Can’t wait to see what you think of this one.


    1. Awesome to hear! I was surprised by how many people chimed in to say his writing was great – I definitely agree with them now. Hope you enjoy his work, too, when you give it a shot!

      Liked by 1 person

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