TV writer Yara Gibson's hometown of Palmdale, California, isn't her first choice for a vacation. But she's back to host her parents' twentieth-anniversary party and find the perfect family mementos for the celebration. Everything is going to plan until Yara receives a disturbing text: I have information that will change your life. The message is from Felicia Campbell, who claims to be a childhood friend of Yara's mother. But they've been estranged for years—drama best ignored and forgotten. But Yara can't forget Felicia, who keeps texting, insisting that Yara talk to her 'before it's too late.' But the next day is already too late for Felicia, whose body is found floating in Lake Palmdale. Before she died, Felicia left Yara a key to a remote lakeside cabin. In the basement are files related to a mysterious tragedy, unsolved since 1998. What secrets was Felicia hiding? How much of what Yara knows about her family has been true? The deeper Yara digs for answers, the more she fears that Felicia was right. Uncovering the truth about what happened at the cabin all those years ago will change Yara's life—or end it.
The inciting incident of Hall’s latest thriller feels familiar in its simplicity ... But in the hands of contemporary writers, such setups open windows onto more complicated, often dysfunctional families, situations that feel compelling even in the absence of a corpse. And in Hall’s work, it opens doors to the kinds of houses you might not have seen in fiction before ... Hall has long forged a singular path as a crime writer, blending an increasingly assured mastery of the genre with an abiding interest in lives too often relegated to the margins. Watching her peel back the layers of Palmdale to expose its diverse residents and problems feels particularly gratifying and makes We Lie Here a fresh addition to a more inclusive list of essential L.A. crime fiction. This stellar entry makes one eager to learn not only what comes next for Hall but also how Yara the writer might use grist from the Palmdale mill in that series pilot percolating in the back of her mind. Hall has been writing stand-alones ever since putting down her Elouise Norton series; maybe it’s time she wrote another sequel.
The unforgiving desert setting and its mix of white supremacists, Crips, and various other outlaws ups the plot-driving paranoia here, but Hall’s knack for creating driven, relatably vulnerable heroines like Yara is the key to this latest success.
A whopper of a domestic thriller ... What makes We Lie Here so frightening is the suggestion that your own family might not be who they claim to be. Rachel Howzell Hall plots this idea perfectly, and the reveal is quite satisfying with the appropriate surprises and twists in the final act.