Book Review: The Truth Behind the Lie

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIE | Sara Lovestam
(Kouplan #1)
08.27.2019 | Minotaur Books
Rating: 4/5 stars

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Pernilla’s six-year old daughter, Julia, has disappeared. Confident that she is in the hands of a criminal and stricken with fear, Pernilla refuses to go to the police. In her desperate search for answers she finds an ad for a private investigator and sends a cryptic plea for help. Enter Kouplan, an Iranian refugee hiding from Swedish immigration authorities. Unable to work a regular job, he has turned to freelancing as a detective.

Pernilla and Kouplan seem like a strange pairing, but together they seem to find comfort in each other. Kouplan may not be the perfect P.I., but he is the friend that Pernilla so desperately needs right now. As the investigation into Julia carries on in soon becomes clear that Pernilla may be keeping secrets about the disappearance close. The clues don’t fit and the only explanation Kouplan can see is one that leaves more questions than answers.

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The world has two sides: winners and losers. One side has people who are used up, consumed, thrown out. The other side contains those who see where the cards are going to fall and want to land on the winning side.

I absolutely love Nordic noir and the gritty, darker level the genre typically takes a crime fiction novel. I wasn’t immediately hit by that vibe with THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIE, which at first left me cautious as to where my feelings would take me. Ultimately what I found was a quirky pairing between Pernilla and Kouplan that centered around a topic that had much more depth than first glance revealed. It took me a bit to find my footing in the novel, but thankfully Lovestam kept the chapters short and the story fast paced. Once things started to make sense and Kouplan dug deeper into Julia’s disappearance I was able to find my way.

It quickly becomes clear within the first few chapters of THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIE that no one is who they seem and everyone is hiding secrets from those around them. Our two main characters of Pernilla and Kouplan are perhaps the biggest offenders of secret keeping. Pernilla knows more about how and why her daughter would be kidnapped than she is letting on. Kouplan is hiding not only his identity, but his origins, and what brought him to Sweden. There is a complexity to these characters that draws the reader in and makes you want to know more about them.

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Something about secrets weighs down a person’s soul. A human being’s secrets are walls and shrinking rooms – or waiting for seventy-five lashes of the whip. The feeling humans have when they keep secrets means they’re not made for telling lies.

I appreciated that Lovestam had alternating narratives throughout the story to give the reader a look into both narrators, as well as a look into the kidnapping. I did find them a little confusing at times when the switch wasn’t entirely clear, but once you realized that stylistic quality to Lovestam’s writing, it became easy to follow the flow. The looks into the kidnapping added a great level of tension that brought the grit more commonly found in this genre.

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIE isn’t your typical piece of Nordic noir. It’s a unique book with equally unique characters who create a story that truly captivates the reader. I loved the ending and knowing that this is just the beginning of a series centered around Kouplan makes me excited to check out more.


This book is available to buy from: Amazon Book Depository

Disclosure: Thank you to Minotaur Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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