ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Lies Behind the Ruin by Helen Matthews

Lies Behind the Ruin by Helen Matthews is available now in eBook and secondhand copies of the paperback of the previous edition are available too. My thanks to the author for sending me one of those copies for review.

How can you build a new life on toxic foundations?

When single mum, Emma marries her second husband, Paul, she imagines her dark days are behind her. Until a fatal accident happens at Paul’s workplace and he is held responsible.
Paul’s behaviour turns erratic. On holiday in France, he impulse-buys a dilapidated property and insists the family move abroad to escape their problems. Emma must make a heart-breaking choice between her son and daughter.

Striving to build a new life in France, Emma is unaware of secrets and lies threatening her family’s safety. Someone wants revenge and Emma’s daughter, Mollie, is easy prey.
Can Emma unearth the truth in time to save her daughter and herself?

Emma and her husband Paul are holidaying in France with their daughter, Molly, and Emma’s son, Owen. On a whim they visit a crumbling cottage that is for sale. It’s in a countryside setting but close to a village and despite Emma’s reservations, Paul goes ahead and buys it, initially as a holiday home but he soon wants to flee his problems at work in England and move the whole family to France. Their new life is not easy for Emma as Paul is missing for months at a time finishing work projects, but she starts to settle in and make a new life for herself. However, as the title suggests, there are lies and secrets and Emma doesn’t know how precarious the family’s new start is, not only with what’s going on behind the scenes with Paul, but also with the Brexit referendum looming large and threatening the life of Brits in Europe.

Lies Behind the Ruin had everything I want in a book. It’s a story of family, relationships and what makes a home. I liked Emma so much and I really enjoyed how she made her life in France work for her, forging new friendships and finding ways to keep the family afloat. Paul, on the other hand, I found weak and deceitful. Revenge for Paul’s behaviour by a third party added a psychological thriller aspect into the mix and gave the story an edgy feel.

This is the third of Helen Matthews’ books I have read and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them all. She’s a fantastic writer of gripping plots, tangled and messy lives, and tricky situations. The characterisations work perfectly, from the main players down to the bit parts, and I felt like I was fully immersed in the life that Emma makes for herself. This story of a toxic relationship told from both sides kept me gripped. Matthews is definitely a favourite author of mine.

I write page-turning psychological suspense and suspense thrillers and I’m fascinated by the darker side of human nature and how a life can change in an instant. My latest release is domestic suspense, ‘Lies Behind the Ruin’ (2nd edition) set in France and is out this month. It’s about a family whose problems at home in the UK threaten to overwhelm them so they try to outrun them by moving to France to renovate a ‘ruin’ and make a fresh start. But secrets and lies from the past pursue them because, after all, how can you build a new life on toxic foundations?

Previous novels include ‘Girl Out of Sight’, a chilling suspense thriller about human trafficking and ‘Facade’ twisty noir about tragedy, guilt and revenge in a family where ‘silence echoes louder than truth’. These novels are published by Darkstroke Books.

From the same publisher my psychological suspense mystery ‘The Girl in the Van’ was the winner of the suspense and thriller genre prize in the prestigious 2022 Pageturner Book Awards. It’s a chilling page-turner that touches on serious and complex themes including individual grief and vulnerability, as well as societal responsibilities towards the disadvantaged and dispossessed. According to an advance reader “It manages to be both thought-provoking and thrilling – no mean feat.”

I’ve been appointed an ambassador for the charity Unseen UL which fights against the scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking. I’m available to give talks at festivals, author events and to local groups about the themes in my novel.

I’d love to know what you think, so please leave a review.

My short story and travel writing collection Brief Encounters is available as an eBook and includes many prize winning and short-listed stories. Take a look at my website over on where you’ll also find my contact details and can tell me what you loved – or hated – about my novels.

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