Gilding the Lily by Justine John



“How was it she came to be here? How was it that it all went so well? Was it her own cleverness, or was it luck?”

“She now understood how others could do it. This criminal act. How other people could get away with it. If she could do it, anyone could. How many people could be getting away with it right now? Thousands, millions? Was the city beleaguered with people crawling around, getting away with their sins?”

“Righteousness? What is righteousness , really? A state of mind? A quality? A knowledge that one is morally correct? What she had done was morally correct, even though it could be termed bad. So it was righteous”

And that is just part of the prologue of the book! It certainly creates intrigue as soon as you open the book and insures that you can’t resist reading further.

Book Blurb

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her utmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

My thoughts on the book

As you can see from above the prologue to this book is full of intrigue and implies that for the person at the graveside is responsible for the death. It leaves a lot of questions that need to be answered, Who’s funeral is it? Who is the person at graveside? And how did the death occur? So for anyone with an ounce of curiosity you have to keep reading!

The book is written with each chapter being told from different characters viewpoints, mainly Amelia and her husband Jack. The chapters are easily marked so no confusion switching between the characters. Jack and Amelia have a marriage that a lot of people want, loving, supportive and honest. They are both really likeable characters that you route for from the very beginning and well written so they are believable as well as likeable. But for me I think Evelyn stole the show! She is a fascinating character and I would have loved to hear more from her as opposed to about her. It would have been really interesting to find out what she was thinking and feeling as she seems almost to be bipolar at times but with a vindictive, possibly killer side to her.

It is quite a slow starter but it gives you time to get to know Amelia and Jack and the back story with Amelia and her father Roger who now lives in America. When Roger remarried his relationship with his daughter deteriorated to the point they were almost estranged from each other, Amelia and his new wife didn’t get on causing the rift.

After his wife Helen passed away he met Evelyn and Amelia hoped that this time she could be friends and get along for her father’s sake. So receiving an inversion from Evelyn to her fathers surprise 75th birthday party she seizes the opportunity to build bridges and make amends with her dad and do her utmost to befriend his partner. Sounds fairly simple right? But what sort of story would that have been, certainly nothing like this one!

Evelyn has no intention of playing stepmum or even befriending Rogers daughter. She has plans of her own. Even when Roger becomes ill she manipulates the situation to her own way and tries to cut Amelia from their lives completely. As Rogers health deteriorates rapidly Jack becomes suspicious of the cause and becomes convinced his father in law is being poisoned. And I was in agreement with Jack!

The story is set between London and New York and even though I have never been to New York it felt authentic in atmosphere and is described in enough detail to transport you there but not be too detailed to clog up the storyline.

All in all this is a really good debut novel, the writing style was a bit different but it is a credit to the author and she will be one to look out for in the future.

If you enjoy psychological slow burner thrillers then this will be a book for you!

Congratulations to Justine John for her first novel and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves.




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