Friday, January 24, 2020

Julie's Review: Big Lies in a Small Town

Author: Diane Chamberlain
Series: None
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Mystery
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Do we ever escape our pasts to be able to move on?
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab

Summary: North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets. North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder. What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies? 

Review: Morgan is sitting in jail for a crime that will haunt her for the rest of her life. That is until she’s released to work on a mural held onto by her favorite artist for decades. She was in the middle of her Junior Year at UNC - Charlotte studying Art, when a mistake changed the path of her life. She's not sure why Jesse James Williams chose her to restore the mural in his home town but in order to gain her freedom she agrees to restore it.  The problem is she doesn't know the first thing about art restoration and her ability to not return to jail. It doesn't really help that she's on an extremely tight deadline because of the opening of the art gallery. 

Anna Dale is a novice artist that is picked by the US Government to create a mural in Edenton, North Carolina which is pretty much small town Americana. Which in the 1940s still means segreation and rampant racism. Anna being from New Jersey isn't sure what she steps into. For the most part, she's welcomed with open arms and even more so as she reveals her drawings for the mural which highlights signifcant areas and events for the town. Not everyone is happy and especially when she has a young black man assisting her out in the barn she's using. 

Then things change for Anna unexpectedly and she disappears from Edenton to leave no trace except for an unfinished mural. 

As Morgan works on the mural and begins to uncover some sinister pictures in it, which means that she's even more curious about Ms. Dale and exactly what happened to her. Along the way she begins to see if she can heal herself while trying to heal Edenton. 

What I really enjoy about Ms. Chamberlain’s books is that I really have no clue what she’s going to throw at me. She loves to lead you down a path and then switch it up on you. It is no different in this novel.



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