Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Literally the Best Reviews: Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies -- Sandra A. Block

Grand Central Publishing
352 Pages
This week’s review will be the first part of a two part book review series consisting of Little Black Lies and The Girl Without a Name. Both books feature Dr. Zoe Goldman as the protagonist, and are written by Sandra A. Block. She is the author who will be speaking at the Lockport Library on April 12th in the Orchard Room at 6:30pm. As a lead up to that event, I have decided to review her two novels.

Imagine a psychological thriller that keeps the reader guessing with each turn of the page. Then, add in that most of the scenes are readily recognizable to the average person from the Buffalo area. When put all together you get a thriller that we can all say, “Hey, I know that place!” That’s exactly what you get with Sandra Block’s debut novel, Little Black Lies.

Zoe Goldman is a resident at a hospital in Buffalo. The patient assigned to her in the psychiatric wing is a young woman around her own age who killed her own mother. As a very young girl, Goldman was the only survivor of a fire that killed her mother, so the fact her patient killed hers makes Goldman think about her own past. How much did she miss out on after her mother’s death. Luckily, she did have a loving and supportive adoptive mother.

Zoe continues to suffer from nightmares about the fire so long before, and her new patient makes her question even more of the foggy memories of that fateful night. Her adoptive mother, suffering from an onset of Alzheimer’s, is not much help. Slowly she starts to piece together some of the events of the night of the fire and comes to a startling conclusion.

Little Black Lies explores the dark side of our personality. Some of that darkness is closer to the surface in some people than in others. Block uses her own experience with psychology to develop a novel that is as frightening as it is entertaining. Those 352 pages will fly by quicker than you realize.

Block develops her main character very well. As the lead in the novel, we are exposed to much of her inner feelings and how each piece of her history affects her as it unfolds in the narrative. Her other characters move in and out of the story with not a heck of a lot of substance, but for the settings of this novel, it works very well. The story is about the life of Zoe Goldman, not of the others.
Probably the most annoying part of the book for me, and this is true for both books, is Goldman’s incessant acknowledgment of her ADHD. She repeats herself over and over again about how her thinking is affected by the disorder. By the first hundred pages, the reader has encountered it several times. At one point, I wondered aloud to my wife if Block was getting kickback from the pharmaceutical companies for each time she mentioned their product. But, honestly, this does little to detract from the overall readability of this novel.

If you’re looking for a thinking thriller that will keep you turning pages while taking place in areas that we all know and love, Little Black Lies by Sandra A. Block is the book for you. She develops a character that we immediately empathize with in Dr. Zoe. Goldman, and sets up a mystery that is revealed, speck by speck, as each page turns.

An added benefit to reading this novel is that you can ask the author all about it at the Lockport Library on April 12th at 6:30pm. I know I’ll be in the audience. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, find your comfy reading spot, grab the book, and enjoy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Craig Bacon is crazy for books, especially good books. You can read more of his zaniness on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

Next Week: The Girl Without a Name -- Sandra A. Block