Twenty years ago, Kate Cranbrook's eyewitness testimony sent the wrong man to prison for rape and murder. When new evidence exonerates him, Kate says that in the darkness and confusion, she must have mistaken her attacker's identity. She is lying. Kate would like nothing better than to turn her back on the past, but she is trapped in a stand-off with the real killer. When a body turns up on her doorstep, she resorts to desperate measures to free herself once and for all from a secret that is ruining her life.
Elizabeth Buhmann toys with readers, using her intriguing writing style and untrustworthy narrator, in her new novel, Lay Death at Her Door. This novel is a thriller from beginning to end as it is a confession from the main character, Kate. A confession of love and lies both laced with deceit.
Readers are introduced to Kate as the narrator, a seemingly reliable source, and as the main character. Throughout the first few chapters, Kate admits that she twists the truth and as readers, we expect her story in conjunction with that confession to be true. Though it isn't. As the novel evolves, we learn that Kate cannot be trusted. And in the end, everyone will regret thinking otherwise.
Kate is a manipulative character, full of wit and ready to play on the sympathy of others. She uses this to her advantage with every other character in the novel. If I didn't dislike her so much, I swear I'd love her. It's a torn relationship that Kate shares with readers. She makes herself out to be the victim and it's so easy to believe. Why would she lie to her readers? Because we set ourselves up to be lied to. And I think readers will thoroughly enjoy the wild mental goose chase that Kate sends them on. In fact, they'll probably recommend it to a friend.
The plot of the novel is fantastic, though at times it is hard to follow. With a stream of conscious narrative that flashes between the past and present, the facts get a bit blurry. Add that the narrator is a compulsive liar and the line between fact and fiction vanishes completely. Buhmann doesn't even flinch getting dirty with the truth as Kate's biggest lie comes into the light: she sent the wrong man to prison. On purpose. Now she has a lot of loose ends to tie up, more people to convince she's the innocent one, and not enough time to get away from the real killer.
Rating: 4/5 Cups
Elizabeth Buhmann is originally from Virginia, where her first novel is set, and like her main character, she lived several years abroad while growing up. She graduated magna cum laude from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. For twenty years, she worked for the Texas Attorney General as a researcher and writer on criminal justice and crime victim issues. Elizabeth now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, dog, and two chickens. She is an avid gardener, loves murder mysteries, and has a black sash in Tai Chi.