When I discovered this book was set on Queensland’s subtropical coast, not far at all from where I live, I was really excited to read it. Kylie Kaden does a wonderful job of painting the small town of Lago Point - a two-cop town where the most exciting thing that ever happens is the tourists coming in to watch the turtle hatchings. You can almost feel the humidity in the air, smell the salt on the hot breeze. The locals all know each other, and each other’s business, and gossip is faster than the speed of light.
The story centers on Abbi, her husband Will, her adoptive brother Blake, and Blake’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Hannah, who’s recently returned from spending several years in America. Abbi’s the main protagonist, and from the beginning it’s clear she has a secret, something Blake (one of the town’s two cops) is helping her cover up. Something Will doesn’t know about and Blake is determined to keep from Hannah at all costs. Abbi and Will’s young daughter Eadie and Hannah’s teenage sister Molly also have significant parts to play, and the first half of the book is really a lot of character development, getting to know these people as they adjust to the changed dynamic of Hannah returning to town.
There are a lot of clues planted to the mystery - everything’s there for you to put it all together - but I have to say that I found the first half of the book really slow. I stuck with it, though, and I’m glad I did, because at around the halfway point of the book the secret Abbi and Blake have been hiding is finally revealed and the pace suddenly starts to pick up.
I have to admit I really disliked Hannah by the time the book ended. She was judgemental and entitled, using those around her to validate herself and refusing to believe others when they told her the truth just because it didn’t align with how she thought the world should be. She justified her own bad behaviour by making incorrect assumptions about other people, and it painted her in a pretty bad light. Abbi, Will and Blake (and later Molly) were all much more likable and easy to root for, people who you wanted everything to turn out okay for because they deserved it.
The book does need to include a trigger warning for child sexual abuse, which becomes something of a theme in the latter part. There’s a lot of Australian vernacular which could confuse some international readers, but I enjoyed it as scene-setting and local colour. My only complaint is that the first half really is way too slow. As a fast reader I bulldozed my way through to the second half where it gets really good, but I could see a fair few readers just noping out and quitting because nothing happens for way too long. Overall, I’ll give it four stars.
The Day the Lies Began is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.