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Once Upon a Lie

by Maggie Barbieri

Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri

Review: Maeve Conlon is a divorced mother of two teenaged daughters and the owner of a barely surviving bakery. When her cousin is found murdered, shot through the head, the police think her aging father, who has come down with Alzheimer's, is the killer, but she's out to prove them wrong, in Once Upon a Lie, a stand-alone thriller by Maggie Barbieri.

Maeve doesn't consider Sean Donovan's death to be much of a loss, to her family or to the public at large. She rarely saw him, didn't like him, and besides she has enough problems on her plate. Her daughters are polar opposites, one serious and studious, the other the very definition of a party girl. Her part-time helper at the bakery, Jo, is recently divorced and has troubles of her own that she insists on sharing with Maeve. Even Maeve's ex-husband is still in her life, having married a close friend of hers and now a new father. But she's most concerned about her father, Jack, who is in an assisted living retirement home but often sneaks out to be on his own. It is during one of those time where he was missing that Sean is killed. The police are quick to discover that Jack and Sean were frequently at odds over the years, but unfortunately Jack has no memory of where he went and certainly no memory of meeting up with, let alone shooting, Sean. Maeve decides the only way to protect her father is to alibi him. But what can she say that the police would believe?

Once Upon a Lie is far more family melodrama than murder mystery thriller. As the lead of the story, Maeve Conlon isn't the most likeable of characters; true, her life is a mess and while she may not be totally responsible for her current lot in life, she hasn't seemed to do much about moving forward. The reader is probably supposed to feel sympathetic towards her, but she doesn't seem to welcome the attention. The supporting cast aren't all that much different, each rather unlikeable (and unsympathetic) in their own individual ways. The murder mystery is wrapped up neatly (and rather unsurprisingly) at the end, but the journey there wasn't really an enjoyable one.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Once Upon a Lie.

Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Once Upon a Lie for this review.

Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …

Mystery Book Review: Extra Credit by Maggie BarbieriExtra Credit
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), December 2012
ISBN-13: 9781250001887; ISBN-10: 1250001889

Location(s) referenced in Once Upon a Lie: New York State

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Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri

Once Upon a Lie by

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-01167-1
Publication Date:
List Price: $24.99

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