book blog · book review

Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane

Pamela Crane - Pretty Ugly Lies_cover_3What causes a woman to murder her whole family?

Jo’s idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.

Ellie is a devoted wife… until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.

Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she’s confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.

June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.

Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap…


*Thank you to the publisher, Bloodhound Books, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Pretty Ugly Lies is a domestic noir novel about four different women, all have been caught with their own problems and drama and one of them is about to snap that will lead to deaths of one family. Jo Trubeau seems to have a perfect life. A loving husband and children and a life most people would be jealous of. Until her three-year-old daughter, Amelia went missing. And the perfect life she worked so hard to build started crumbling and her secret is threatening to come out. Ellie Harper, a devoted wife to her husband and kids but feels unappreciated. She started resenting them as she gave up a great career to be a fulltime housewife. And yet her kids don’t respect her and she just found out that her husband is cheating. She is itching for revenge. June Merrigan, a wife and a mother of four kids, one of which is in the spectrum. She has to juggle between waitressing and the demands of her family, physically, emotionally, and financially. And her husband is not a great help. In fact, he lost his job. Again. June is on the verge of breaking down. And there’s Shayla Kensington, a woman who’s been battling with her demons for so long. She’s an unsatisfied wife and struggling to connect with her constantly bullied son. She is now faced with a decision that will cost her everything. Most of all, her family.

This book will immediately grab your attention as it at once thrown in a murder scene, and a murder of a family at that, in its opening chapter. The suspect is in the center of the carnage waiting for the police to come and get her. Who would not be interested to know who would commit such crime? Told in the POVs of four women, Jo, June, Shayla, and Ellie, we get a glimpse of what they are going through and how they come to resent the family they used to love. The alternating perspective set a steady pace and keeps the suspense coming one after the other as each woman have gripping stories to tell. From an unhappy marriage to motherhood struggles.

Aside from June, the other three women appear to have perfect lives and made you think, what could possibly happen for one to crack and kill. A lot could go wrong, apparently. They all have different family issues they’re dealing with but the common factor would be their struggles of being a mother. At first, they appear whiny and just unlikeable. How can you like someone who wished their family gone? But the more I read about them, the more I am convinced that their frustrations and resentments can actually happen. That there are people out there going through the same thing. That sometimes, they longed for peace and quiet. I can’t relate to the characters on that matter but I can very well understand their plight. Theirs struggles felt real, from secrets coming out, dealing with autism, mental illness, and infidelity, I can’t help but sympathize.

The author did a great job of writing an engaging novel but also creating realistic and well-developed characters. It was impressive how she managed to cast doubts on each character that it was hard to guess who could be the killer. On my part, I get to spot it, but not easily and definitely not that surprising twist. Pretty Ugly Lies is indeed a thrilling yet disturbing novel. It was not an easy read as it can be depressing at times. It also is very dark, as the opening scene alone will prove that. And so, it is safe to say that this novel would not be for everyone’s taste. Thought-provoking but I can do with less whining. Still, a good read overall.





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