One Little Lie (Pelican Harbor #1) – Colleen Coble

One Little Lie Colleen Coble
One Little Lie by Colleen Coble
Also by this author: Two Reasons to Run
Series: Pelican Harbor #1
Published by Thomas Nelson on March 3, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
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four-stars

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth. 
Book one in a gripping new series from USA TODAY bestselling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble.
When Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, there's no time for an adjustment period. He is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, and Jane quickly realizes she's facing someone out to destroy her father.
They escaped from a cult fifteen years ago, and Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?
Reid Bechtol is a well-known journalist who makes documentaries, and his sights are currently set on covering Jane's career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.
Jane finds herself depending on Reid's calm manner as he follows her around taping his documentary, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross.
It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth. 

When Jane Hardy was appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor—following the surprise retirement of her father—there are a few unsolved crimes, but nothing out of the ordinary. That soon changes when a shrimp boat reels in a refrigerator, and inside that refrigerator is a human torso.

Couple that with a pesky investigative journalist who the mayor has allowed to tag along, the federal arrest of her father for theft and money laundering, and secrets from her past coming back to haunt her…well…it’s a lot to take in. One Little Lie is a frenetically paced novel that layers storyline upon storyline, twisting and turning and keeping readers guessing until the very last page.

Oh, and I’ve not even told you about Jane’s past, which includes fleeing a cult during a federal raid, a child bride wedding to leader’s son, and a baby who dies in the raid. In other words, there’s a lot going on. While Coble sorts out the plot with precision and skill, it’s a bit more story than three hundred pages can muster. Storylines get dropped in fully formed, then are explained as the plot moves forward. The pro side of this is you really get the feel that this is true snapshot of life. Not everything is explained or developed. You’re dropped into the lives of characters who have fully formed stories going on before the events of the book.

The downside is that it takes some time to orient oneself to the story. As soon as I felt comfortable that I understood one storyline, I was taken to another. The result is that there was a lot of action and movement, but not as much substance—though I’m sure Coble will continue to add this substance over the next two books in the series. The cult storyline was underplayed, although some surprise elements were truly surprises.

In all, One Little Lie is a fun, quick read. It’s not as substantive or deep as I would have liked. It brings up a number of deep topics and hard questions, but gets distracted with the next deep topic/hard question, and never quite satisfies. It’s what keeps this good novel from being great, though this may just be personal preference, as I seem to continually say these kinds of things about novels in this genre.

One thing’s for sure: Coble knows what she is doing. The pacing is quick, the writing superb, the action intense. It leaves you thinking after you close the final page, and that’s the mark of good fiction.

four-stars