Title: Truth Stained Lies
Author: Terri Blackstock
Series: Moonlighters, Book 1
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Narrator: Gabrielle De Cuir
Genre(s): mystery, suspense, Christian fiction
When truth doesn’t make sense, will lies prevail? Cathy Cramer is a former lawyer and investigative blogger who writes commentary on high-profile homicides. When she finds a threatening note warning her that she’s about to experience the same kind of judgment and speculation that she dishes out in her blog, Cathy writes it off as mischief . . . until her brother’s wife is murdered and all the “facts” point to him. The killer has staged the crime to make the truth too far-fetched to believe. Working to solve the murder and clear her brother’s name, Cathy and her two sisters, Holly and Juliet, moonlight as part-time private investigators. Juliet, a stay-at-home mom of two boys, and Holly, a scattered ne’er-do-well who drives a taxi, put aside their fear to hunt down the real killer. Stakes rise when their brother’s grieving five-year-old son is kidnapped. As police focus on the wrong set of clues, the three sisters and their battered detective friend are the only hope for solving this bizarre crime, saving the child, and freeing their brother.
Truth Stained Lies is a fascinating novel that starts out with the feel of a mystery, and develops features of suspense and a hint of romance as the plot thickens. This is the first in the Moonlighters series of books by Terri Blackstock. Distortion is second in the series, with Twisted Innocence releasing this month.
Besides featuring its own mystery to solve, this book does a fabulous job of introducing the interesting and (relatively) large cast of characters that populate the series as a whole. At various times, it delves into the points of view of each of the three sisters in turn, as well as several other significant characters. Within this first book, the author introduces us to the family dynamics as well as to each of the individual characters and their challenges. The more I read about them, the more I want to read. And while this story ends on a satisfying note, it also left me wanting to know more. I’m definitely curious to find out what might be in store for these characters as the series continues. Some romance perhaps? More danger and intrigue?
I appreciated the strong Christian themes found in this book, which touched on grace & forgiveness. It didn’t come across as preachy at all, maybe because none of the characters really have it all together. No one is preaching at anyone else. They’ve all got a Christian background, but they’re facing their own struggles and doubts, and they turn to each other for advice and help in their weaker moments. Judgment, forgiveness, family ties, uncertain futures, and painful pasts – these characters are dealing with a lot, all while moonlighting as private investigators. Overall, it makes for a fascinating story, which I’m pleased to recommend.
Specific to the Audiobook:
I sought out this audiobook in particular not just because this was a series I wanted to read in order, but also because this title was an Audie Award finalist in the Inspirational Fiction category for 2014. Quite the honor! I held high hopes for an exceptional reading by this audiobook’s narrator, and I was not disappointed.
The audio edition of Truth Stained Lies was not just a reading. It was a performance. Narrator Gabrielle De Cuir did a great job showcasing the emotions of the characters and bringing the dialogue to life. Each character’s voice reflected his or her unique personality and emotional state, even to the extent of going beyond what I might have picked up on in a strictly text-based reading. I confess, at one point, I did wonder if the level of angst reflected in one character’s voice was a bit more than necessary, but overall, I loved the performance. The reader’s interpretation throughout this audiobook was most definitely vivid and delightfully performed. She didn’t pull any punches when it came to reading for emotional impact, and that made for an impressive listening experience that I would be happy to recommend.
Thank you to Zondervan and Brilliance Audio for providing me with a review copy of this audiobook.