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Monday, 31 October 2016

‘A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone

Published by Orenda Books,
6 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-910633-49-6 (PB)

Abuse within marriage has been very much in the news lately, largely because of the radio story which has been hitting the headlines; but Michael J Malone’s chilling psychological drama puts a different twist on it.

Having been tragically widowed before he was thirty, Andy Boyd never thought he’d find love again. But then he meets Anna. Unfortunately she is not all she seems; her own past has left her damaged, as Andy begins to discover when they have been married only a few hours.

Over the next few years, Andy’s entire life takes a downward spiral as Anna not only corrodes his confidence and ability to concentrate  but also drives a wedge between him and his family. Like many people, I have often wondered why abused spouses don’t simply walk away, but this novel makes it very plain that sometimes it just isn’t that easy.

Domestic drama of this kind could become a little repetitive, and to avoid this pitfall Malone weaves another strand through the heartrending accounts of violence and denigration. Money has been going missing at the bank where Andy is a manager, and as the powers-that-be launch their investigation, in addition to the treatment meted out to him at home, he also has to deal with his immediate boss, who is not only inefficient but thoroughly disagreeable as well.

The resulting tale makes for a gripping read based around well-drawn characters it’s easy to care about, though it’s not without a few flaws. Malone is an award-winning poet, so the quality of the writing is impeccable – occasionally, perhaps, a little too much so; stopping to admire a beautiful phrase or image can hold up the narrative as effectively as wincing at an unfortunate one. And if Malone believes a two-year-old remains unaffected by tensions at home, he can’t know many two-year-olds.

But these are minor points; taken overall, Michael J Malone has done a grand job of raising consciousness about a very human issue without resorting to preachiness. It just goes to show that fiction is an excellent medium for illustrating big truths.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Michael J Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns' country, just a stone's throw from the great man's cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a "J" to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake. He can be found on twitter - @michaelJmalone1

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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