‘Lies Like Wildfire’ – Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Lies Like Wildfire was an interesting concept, and I’m grateful to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this in advance of publication (due September 2021).

The story focuses, initially, on a horrendous wildfire that is started by the reckless behaviour of sheriff’s daughter, Hannah, and her close group of friends. Not being familiar with such an experience, I was surprised by the punishments meted out to anyone causing a fire though given how potentially damaging it is this makes sense. Given such a penalty hanging over them, perhaps it’s more understandable why they do all they can to cover up their involvement.

The ‘monsters’ as her group of friends are affectionately known (after their involvement in a childhood play) are not going to come out of this experience unscathed. Part one of the book focuses on the fire and its immediate aftermath. The police – including Hannah’s father – are drawing closer so it’s understandable that it appears someone is going to crack. However, part two focuses on the disappearance and subsequent search for Violet.

We know these kids are prepared to lie to protect one another. Their relationships are founded on bonds formed years earlier, but they have secrets and are not all keen on protecting themselves. The question becomes who is more desperate to preserve the status quo?

The initial fire story really hooked me. However, it quickly blew up into a more melodramatic story. Hannah – for no obvious reason – got herself into a weird situation with a man who should have known better. Her father was clearly prepared to uphold the law, whatever the personal cost, but we never really saw beyond the surface so don’t know what he suspected. The group were fractured from the off, and their selfishness irritated me. These elements made it hard to sustain the engagement of the beginning, and the open-ended moral ambiguity was frustrating.