What is this about?: Amy Winter is a daughter of two worlds — that of her serial killer parents and that of her adoptive parents who loved her, and raised her. The two come crashing together for the first time when a young girl, Hermoine, is kidnapped and her birth mother decides she wants out of jail.
What else is this about?: Family, the things that shape us.
Meet Amy Winter: Detective Inspector, daughter of a serial killer.
DI Amy Winter is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her highly respected police officer father. But when a letter arrives from the prison cell of Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious husband-and-wife serial-killer team, it contains a revelation that will tear her life apart.
Responsible for a string of heinous killings decades ago, Lillian is pure evil. A psychopathic murderer. And Amy’s biological mother. Now, she is ready to reveal the location of three of her victims—but only if Amy plays along with her twisted game.
While her fellow detectives frantically search for a young girl taken from her mother’s doorstep, Amy must confront her own dark past. Haunted by blurred memories of a sister who sacrificed herself to save her, Amy faces a race against time to uncover the missing bodies.
But what if, from behind bars, Grimes has been pulling the strings even tighter than Amy thought? And can she overcome her demons to prevent another murder?
At it’s core, there are two relationships that make Truth and Lies a delicious read: Amy and Lillian, the woman who gave birth to her and Amy and her (adoptive) father, Robert.
One day out of the blue, Amy receives a letter informing her that she is the daughter of one of the most notorious husband-and-wife serial killer teams in the UK. It’s from her mother, Lillian, who wants her to visit. And with that Amy’s carefully scheduled and planned world comes crashing down around her.
Lillian has been in jail — well no one thinks it’s for long enough — and she wants out. She gives Amy the burial sites of three of the last victims of her and her husband, Jack’s, killing spree in an effort to gain Amy’s trust before she closes the trap she’s set — she knows where Hermoine, the kidnapped daughter of a TV personality, is. And if Amy proves her innocence, only then will she tell her where she is.
Lillian is a fascinating, dark and repulsive character. She will do whatever it takes to get out of jail, manipulate her children — of the four she had, only three are alive: Damian, Mandy and Amy. Amy remembers her oldest sister, Sally-Anne, being killed by her father one day when Lillian decided she couldn’t have any competition in the house for Jack’s attention.
Her relationship with Amy is one in which she is in control, and which Amy chafes at that sort of control. She doesn’t want anything to do with Lillian, but it’s Robert, a former policeman, who shapes her too. Amy will follow the law no matter what, hoping to be as accomplished as Robert was, but what she realises as the book continues is that Robert was human and fallible and he made his own mistakes too — one for which her adoptive mother, Flora, is kind of still paying for.
The push-and-pull of Lillian and Amy’s relationship fascinates me because Lillian frames it as a mother-daughter relationship, one in which she wants to connect with her children, and to connect Amy to her siblings, but while the words might make sense, the evil in her is clear, and Amy cannot tear herself away from giving the families of those last three victims closure.
The book intersperses the present with the past, with four-year-old Amy (AKA Poppy, her birth name) living in the house of serial killer parents, with her siblings. Readers are introduced to an astute Poppy, who knows how to survive her parents house, but is still the kind of innocent that will make you break your heart. Poppy knew how to survive, as she comes into more contact with Lillian in her present, Amy begins to realise that.
The cast is rounded out by equally fascinating characters, each complex in their own way that the author manages to flesh out quite nicely — and all who have a part to play. I do think there is a side-story with Paddy, Amy’s second in command, that isn’t necessary and that the epilogue is an example of tieing things up in a red bow when maybe they didn’t need to be. But.,
… damn, this was good.