Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is a tightly spun, complex story. Set in Australia’s Pirriwee peninsula, the book opens with a murder at the local elementary school trivia night fund raiser, though the victim, killer, and motive are not identified. All we are left with is that 1) things at trivia night got really out of hand, and 2) now someone is dead.
The story then flashes back, and we follow the main characters – three kindergarten mothers of different ages and backgrounds – as Moriarty pieces together for us how in the world such a horrible thing could happen in such a nice school. Lies touches on a number of social issues as Moriarty lays bare the deceptions both large and small of the community, from domestic violence to bullying to school politics. However, it does so in a way that is not heavy handed or preachy. Instead, each is part of the stew of conflicts that eventually boiled over at the trivia night. And interspersed within the chapters are interview-like transcripts from various supporting characters, given (apparently) after the incident. It makes for an effective foreshadowing effect.
So, yes, Lies is a well crafted story with lots of intrigue coming from unlikely places. It’s funny and heartbreaking and has all the feels. The characters, many of whom start out as flat archetypes, evolve as the novel unfolds into well rounded, fully developed characters that you genuinely pull for. And the twist is a lovely hidden-in-plain-sight gem that I kicked myself for not seeing sooner. All of which makes Lies worth reading. But where the book really shines is in the pacing.
The flow of the novel is so crisp, it practically crackles. It reads like a Gilmore Girls episode, and not just in the dialogue. I read a good chunk of it on the trip home from vacation, and more than once I said to my wife, “This book feels like it was meant to be read out loud.” The rhythm and cadence of the prose was brilliant, and that is what made this book so addictive. I’m looking forward to reading more from Liane Moriarty. So should you.