cover image Lie Beside Me

Lie Beside Me

Gytha Lodge. Random House, $17 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-984-81810-2

In British author Lodge’s uneven third Det. Chief Insp. Jonah Sheens novel (after 2020’s Watching from the Dark), alcoholic harpist Louise Reakes wakes to find a murdered stranger lying beside her. Her husband is away, and Louise can’t remember most of last night, so she panics and moves the man outside before calling the Hampshire police. Jonah and his colleagues identify the victim as Alex Plaskitt, a fitness instructor whose husband says Alex went out clubbing and never came home. Security camera footage places Louise and Alex at the same venue, and the cops soon realize the true crime scene isn’t Louise’s garden, but her bed. They arrest her and start trying to reconstruct the evening, but the more evidence they uncover, the less clear-cut their case becomes. Lodge’s glib portrayal of Louise’s drinking problem undercuts the tale’s emotional impact, and shoehorned subplots centering on the investigating officers’ personal lives fail to compensate. Still, this twist-riddled whodunit is certain to keep readers guessing until the contrived but gratifying conclusion. Series fans will be contented. [em]Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (June) [/em]