Colorado author Emily Littlejohn’s follow-up thriller, A Season to Lie, takes place in a sleepy Colorado ski town and leads the reader on a gruesome murder mystery.
I’ve always been a bit of a compulsive reader…almost obsessive about the book I’m reading. If I’m really enjoying a book, I struggle to put it down and engage in real life. Pre-kids, I could, and did, stay up reading till the wee morning hours, which seems like an obscene luxury now. But these days my reading time has severely dwindled due to, well, kids. And because my reading time is so much more limited, I’ve also learned to chuck a book if it doesn’t draw me in rather quickly. Why waste my limited “me time” on something I’m not really enjoying?
On a scale of chucking the book to compulsive, escapist reading, Emily Littlejohn’s books came in firmly under compulsive reading. I was the one you saw reading while pushing a stroller as I walked up to retrieve my oldest from school. Sure, I felt slightly sheepish whenever anyone walked by, but, damn it, I was going to finish that chapter before the school bell rang.
I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of Colorado fiction author Emily Littlejohn before her publisher offered to send me her latest novel. But as a long-time book nerd and locavore, I was thrilled to dive into a new book, especially one by a Colorado writer.
A Season to Lie is Littlejohn’s sequel to her popular debut novel, Inherit the Bones. Minotaur Books was kind enough to send me both books, and rule-follower that I am, I felt it necessary to start with her first. Littlejohn received a lot of critical praise for her debut novel, so I won’t go into that here, but I will say I was enthralled enough by the first book that I dove right into the second book, closing one and opening the next the very same day. (Note: This page contains local affiliate links. Learn more here.)
Set in a fictional Colorado ski town, A Season to Lie drops the reader back into the life of small town police investigator Gemma Monroe just as she returns to the police force following an uneventful maternity leave. A long-distance-coupled but unmarried mama-to-be in the first novel, Gemma is now a cohabitating coupled but unmarried new mom. No nonsense and practical, as I imagine good cops must be, she hesitates to marry a man who has betrayed her in the past.
Much like Littlejohn’s first novel, the book jumpstarts the action almost immediately with the gruesome murder-in-question occurring on Gemma’s very first night back on the force in the midst of a typical Colorado snowstorm. The victim? A celebrated author who had been working incognito at the prestigious high school where his body was found.
Although A Season to Lie is very much a murder mystery, the protagonist is also, for the first time, investigating a murder as a new mother. As any parent knows, it’s hard not to look at the world with new perspective once you’re responsible for a life. And the weight of that must be much greater when your job means you encounter the worst side of humanity.
As she navigates the case before her, Gemma also navigates the complexities of her new roles in life…as a protective new mother to a baby girl, as a co-parent with a partner she’s not quite certain she can trust, and as a granddaughter who’s losing to dementia the grandmother who raised her. At the same time her work relationships are also evolving…a young cop she mentored is being pulled to “the dark side,” and a partner she once was wary of but for whom she now feels a newfound respect and, it seems, possibly something more.
In the midst of this emotional chaos, Gemma’s leads take her on a chase that include some run-ins with unsavory yet smooth characters that could’ve been plucked from The Godfather era as well as disturbing discoveries about modern high school life.
I found A Season to Lie to be an engaging, enjoyable novel, and would certainly recommend it for a little escapism. But I’ll admit, while I found it to be an engrossing read, I was slightly disappointed with the ending…though I think that’s only because the first novel was so very inventive with unexpected twists. It’s not necessary to read Inherit the Bones in order to enjoy the follow-up, but I would suggest it anyway. And, when the third book in this series is released (and it is slated to be in 2018), I won’t hesitate to pick it up…at my favorite local bookstore, of course.
Meet Colorado author Emily Littlejohn at the book launch for A Season to Lie at BookBar this Friday, November 17, at 7pm. A Season to Lie is published by Minotaur Books and is available for purchase at BookBar, Tattered Cover Book Store, and other local bookstores.
Note: I received a copy of the books to review for the purpose of this post.