Novels featuring supernatural elements or slashers on the loose can be creepy but nothing raises the hair on my neck more than when ordinary people are faced with plausible horrific events. The former are scary, but how about when a suburban housewife living a quiet and comfortable existence with her devoted husband in a small Midwestern town is called upon to face an evil that originated in her past? Dorrie Whiteare has a secret date at the mall nearly every weekend, to follow the daughter she gave up for adoption before meeting her husband, Sam. When Juliet is kidnapped from the mall one afternoon, shy and timid Dorrie throws caution to the wind and goes after the kidnapper to save her daughter, and Sam has to reconsider everything he thought he knew about his wife. As Dorrie throws herself headlong into danger, she fights with the fact that this kidnapping is not random at all.
One of the best things about Nancy Springer’s Dark Lie is how quickly and convincingly she is able to convey vivid, suspense-filled reality and combine it with relentless forward motion pacing. This plot demands movement and quite literally Dorrie is in her car following abductor and captive. Though the novel is fast-paced there is plenty of psychological exposition detailing Dorrie’s loneliness in her religion, her troubled relationship with her fanatical parents, isolation from her husband, Sam’s insecurity in being unable to pierce Dorrie’s defenses, and their quiet retreat from life when Dorrie’s lupus diagnosis prevents them from starting a family.
Dark Lie is a quick read mixing elements of mystery, psychological suspense, and religious fanaticism. Springer’s narrative seamlessly alternates through Dorrie’s past and present while including the perspective of her husband Sam, and Sissy Chappell, a young black police woman and handwriting expert, who is the only one realizing just how much trouble Dorrie and her daughter are facing. The horror of Dorrie’s story is a convincing one in Springer’s capable hands, and the result a startling page-turner. Recommended.