Tissue of Lies, by Carole Parkes, is a tale that is a unique combination of domestic family life and a disturbing and engaging thriller. At times, I was reminded of Irma Bombeck, a domestic icon when I was a child. And at other times I was reminded of James Patterson.
Though making this combination seems like a feat, Ms. Parkes managed to do it will flair. While most would expect that a book about murder and evil would be driven, as it is in most modern fiction, by horrible visions of murder and psychopathic killers. And yet Tissue of Lies is sprinkled liberally with scenes of school parents setting up charity projects and putting on plays. All this surrounded by deception, poisonings, and murder.
Julie Simpson is living a charmed life. Her husband has inherited a large amount of money from his parents after their untimely death. She and her husband are deeply in love and they have two adorable, if somewhat precocious, children. Her time is spent happily taking care of her two daughters and working on various projects at their school. But deep in her heart, there is a discordant element in her life. Julie believes her parents are aren’t really her biological parents. What ratchets up her suspicions is a news story about a woman and her husband who had their baby kidnapped years before. Most striking is that the woman who was the subject of the news story looks disturbingly like Julie herself, down to their shared beautiful red hair.
Unable to help herself, Julie contacts the couple. The experience is an amazing revelation; she bonds with them immediately. And despite the fact that she loves the parents that raised her, people she now suspects of kidnapping her, she can’t help but let her relationship with her biological parent’s blossom. The agonizing subterfuge that follows as she keeps one side of her family from the other is very skillfully handled by the author. Dumping her daughters on her parents so she can see her “new” parents, sanitizing her house so there is no trace of her children when she brings her biological parent to her home, preventing her new parents from finding out her other parents are alive, all of these are disturbing and frustrating elements of the story and yet they are handled convincingly by Ms. Parkes.
While tension escalates on the domestic front, Julie’s biological mother has her own concerns. Feeling that she’s been deprived of the finer things in life, she works Julie’s desperate need to know her real parents in an attempt to control her and improve her own financial situation. But what no one seems to know, including Julie’s biological father, is that Julie’s mother is willing to take short cuts to get what she wants, including violence and murderous behavior.
Parkes builds up the tension expertly while still maintaining the domestic thread and the two sides of the story act in contrast to enhance the readers experience. The threat that the danger Julie’s mother represents to her marvelous domestic life makes the situation all the more dire. No spoilers here; I’ll only say that by the time your reach the climax of the story, you, as a reader, will have experienced an incredible literary catharsis. Parkes creates a perfect vision of absolute evil and psychopathy.
This is a unique story that will be satisfying for a number of different readers, touching on family values and pure evil. This is not a story to miss.