Mystery Thriller

What Lies Between Us – John Marrs

15 April 2020
What Lies Between Us Book Cover What Lies Between Us
John Marrs
Thomas & Mercer
May 15, 2020

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave. They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past. Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can't ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price. But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn't know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way--even if it kills her. Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.


What Lies Between Us is a dark psychological thriller that will disturb your concept of a mother and daughter relationship. What has happened to have caused such a taut hatred? To smile and engage with light conversation while underneath plotting to be free while violence lurks, that will shock to the core.

Maggie is an elderly woman who spends her days in an attic bedroom and through a shuttered window she has a limited view of the outside world. For over two and a half years she has lived like this.

“The longer I spend at this window, the more I realise I’m becoming like Jeff, the wheelchair-bound character James Stewart plays in the film Rear Window. Like him, I have little choice but to spend my days spying on my neighbours. Jeff thinks he has witnessed the murder of one of his neighbours. But the only thing dying in this street is me. And nobody knows that but my daughter.”

Maggie is chained to a spike in the floor that gives her access in her bedroom but not beyond. Every second evening she gets chained to a longer chain that allows her down one flight of stairs for dinner with her daughter Nina and the bathroom.

John Marrs creates two protagonists that he develops with skill throughout the novel and each tells the story from their perspective. The family background with Maggie and Nina, and the incidents which led to this highly caustic situation are slowly revealed. The suspense of the unknown and which character is the most dangerous and cruel is maintained with wonderful complex switching of suspicion between the two. “But I no longer allow her to witness how her cruelty upsets me. Maybe I’ve been taking the wrong approach.”

The biggest issue for me is the believability on how this scenario developed. I can normally suspend belief when the thriller suspense is as riveting as this but this issue constantly nagged at the back of my mind. This was a buddy read with Beata and this topic became our main discussion area. Marrs does captivate with his threads of action and manipulation and this is a page-turner of drama with a wonderful pace throughout the whole novel. At this stage with Beata, we both know each other so well that we wait with a smile knowing how the other is going to react to the author’s intent and their delivery with possible plot holes.

I need to try more John Marrs because he certainly knows how to hook a reader and I appreciate how he enthrals his readers. I would recommend this book and I would like to thank Amazon Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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