How did I miss this series? Maggie Barbieri has written two novels featuring Maeve Conlon: Once Upon a Lie and Lies That Bind. All I can figure is there was an unfortunate subconscious reminder of OJ’s girlfriend that blinded me to Ms. Barbieri’s work 🙂 But now she is back with further adventures for Maeve in Lie in Plain Sight.
Maeve is a single mother in upstate New York (Maggie herself lives in the Hudson Valley), and she works her ass off with her bakery, a business that supports her and her two daughters. Apparently, the older daughter was more present in the first two novels; in this third installment, she is away at college and makes occasional appearances…plus she is a constant reminder to Maeve and the younger daughter that getting into college is important, you need to be out there getting credit for activities that will look good on your resume, etc. But to Maeve, it appears that her younger daughter is somewhat less than sensational. Maeve’s own mother died when Maeve was very young, so the whole mother-daughter thing is fraught with tension in ways both subtle and overt. And to add to the complex family dynamic, there is Maeve’s ex husband as well as her newly-discovered half sister, and her cop boyfriend.
As if things aren’t complicated enough, Maeve hires a fellow single mother, Trish Dvorak, after running into her at college night at the high school (where both their daughters are at the picking-a-college stage) and being impressed by Trish’s honesty about having a daughter who is not exceptional (refreshing honesty, Maeve thinks!) Shortly after Trish begins work at the bakery, she is out on a delivery when the high school phones with the message that the woman’s daughter Taylor is sick and asking to go home. To her surprise, Maeve finds out that Trish has listed her as an emergency contact, and the school nurse encourages Maeve to give the necessary permission (Taylor is, after all, almost 18 and has her own car). Maeve is hesitant, but harried, and agrees…then word comes that Taylor has disappeared, and the mystery begins.
Of course Maeve feels responsible, and guilty: “Guilt for some things – but not others – took hold of her sometimes and wouldn’t let go, shaking her to the core. This was one of those things.” She is compelled to try to unravel the mysterious disappearance. Along the way, there is a creepy soccer coach, some earnest (maybe TOO earnest?) high school boys raising money for a mission to help needy people, and the asshat rich guy who just happens to be the sperm donor for Taylor, but who has never apparently been responsible for any of her needs.
Maeve discovers, among these intertwined relationships, that the small town of Farringville has a lot more to hide than most small towns. And that people aren’t always what they seem: …”someone Maeve now knew was completely out of his mind, someone who pretended by day that he was nice, helpful, but who by night and any other time he felt like it was capable of horrible, evil things. Someone who hid his true identity in plain sight.”
The story more than held my interest, I loved Maeve’s honesty and wit, and I plan to go back and read the first two in this series, even though I will know in advance some of Maeve’s life events that will unfold in those two books. Five stars for this one!