Editorial Review: Faces & Lies, by Margaret Podmore Emery
Faces & Lies, by Margaret Podmore Emery, is a tense mystery with show horses at the center. At first, show rider Devin believes she’s on the receiving end of strange, twisted pranks. Someone seems to be following her. Her possessions are moved around, even though no one should have a key to her home, but nothing of value has been taken. As the story goes on, the stakes grow higher, threatening the people and horses she cares about most.
Well-written mysteries are always a popular genre because they have that page-turning blend of intrigue and suspense. Here, we have an unknown person -- or maybe multiple people -- playing cruel pranks on Devin. Our heroine can’t take the obvious solution and go to the authorities, because they remind her that nothing has been taken, that she probably just misplaced her own things, that someone sitting outside her home isn’t actually illegal. Devin is on her own against an invisible enemy, creating tension and suspense right from the start. This idea of an unknown person acting maliciously just out of sight reappears throughout the novel.
Faces & Lies is a good fit for fans of horses and riding in general. It’s never confusing for readers without background knowledge in horse shows, but long sections about show riding and horse care may start to drag for readers who aren’t also riders. An explanation is always provided to readers, perhaps as Devin explains to her bestie Ria about her work with horses, trainers, and students. This mystery with dramatic tension and warm friendship themes could be a perfect gift for your own horse-girl bestie. The horses are treated with care, and Devin’s special horses are almost full characters in this book. (Something bad does happen to an animal in this book, though, so warn your animal-loving friends before reading it. Nothing is overly gory, but it’s still a shock in a novel that cares for the horses so much.)
When readers become immersed in a mystery story, there’s a compelling sense of urgency and discovery. Here, there are so many clues about who could be harassing Devin, and whether it’s a tasteless prank or a threat to her life. There’s no shortage of suspects in this mystery, either, with compelling conflicts and believable motives. There’s a sense of urgency in figuring out who is behind all this harassment, especially once Wendy, Devin’s groom and the person who loves Devin’s horses the most, suddenly disappears. The tension and urgency increase throughout this novel.
A good mystery novel also has that wonderful element of surprise, that final twist at the end when all is revealed and the puzzle comes together. The ending here is satisfying, uncovering a believable villain with scary motives and absolutely no moral boundaries. Without giving away too much of the novel’s mystery, I loved how certain small discrepancies from the beginning of the novel were perfectly explained at the end of the book. When the solution is finally revealed, readers will truly understand the levels of dysfunction and hatred motivating the villain.
Overall, this is a dramatic story for horse fans and mystery readers.