Peter Swanson’s newest psychological thriller, All the Beautiful Lies, resonates with the kind of manipulative sociopaths who made The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, The Kind Worth Killing, and Her Every Fear such stand out reads.

We are introduced to Harry Ackerman, literally days away from college graduation, when news of his father’s death changes his world forever.

Hurrying to Maine and the home his father shared with Harry’s stepmother, Alice, he soon finds what he thought was an accidental fall off a cliff may be a deliberate act of murder.

But who would want to kill the kindly man who ran a bookshop and whose life was devoted to scouting out first editions? A lover of crime, many of Bill Ackerman’s favorite crime novels line Harry’s shelves.

He helps Alice with the funeral and stays to help run the bookshop for the summer, aided by his father’s assistant, John, as detectives investigate. Alice insists finally that a local woman and her husband must be involved, as she feels Bill was having an affair with the woman.

Then a young woman enters the bookshop one day, asking for work. Harry can’t help but feel she’s lying to him, and although Grace McGowan claims she just moved to the area, Harry feels she’s more entwined to his family than she’s admitting.

And on the homefront, his stepmother’s clinginess starts to cross a line that leaves Harry confused about her real motives. Alice seems to exist in her own kind of Wonderland. Where does the reality fall?

All Harry knows for certain is that there are secrets being kept and he’s at the center of it all.

Told in alternating time periods, “Then” concentrates on the history of Alice and her upbringing, and “Now” on what is happening to Harry after his father’s death.

It’s a clever way to reveal information as this story of revenge and obsession unfolds, along with cold-blooded murder, in a way that will have readers wondering just who can be trusted, if anyone at all.

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