Everything but the Truth is my latest psychological suspense read and a well written debut by Gillian McAllister. The premise here is something that could happen- Rachel is almost asleep one night when her boyfriend's phone lights up. She looks at it and sees an email that gets her thinking- how well does she know this guy? They've been together a while, less than a year, and she's pregnant. She loves him, but she can't get the email out of her head. Does Jack have a secret? And if so, what is it?
I was actually hoping for a little more suspense out of this one, I guess it's a thriller but it's more of a character study almost- a slow burn examination of their relationship and whether it will survive. It's probably no spoiler to say Jack does have a secret- but Rachel has one too. She left medicine for reasons unknown at the outset, so even as she digs deeper into Jack's past, she realizes on some level she's not being honest either. It's an interesting conundrum. Most of the psychological thrillers I've been reading lately have involved deadly secrets or murders, you know stuff like that, where the protagonist is in dire peril. I never really felt like Rachel was in peril here. And to be fair I'm not sure that's what I was supposed to think- it's not a failure of the author, it's just a different book than I was looking for.
I also thought it was kind of slow going. I mean two hundred pages in and Rachel is still struggling with guilt over not trusting Jack, and she carries guilt also over her own secret. Jack comes clean a bit but then Rachel discovers there may be more. But not much happened. And not a lot of suspense, to be honest. But the book does take a look at just how private our online lives are (hint: not much) as Rachel digs into his social media past and even dabbles with the dark web a bit.
Rachel was okay, I could sympathize with her- I mean if you're going to marry someone and have kids you want to really know them, right? And Jack seemed like a nice guy, even if he was a little dodgy on his past. The thing that got me though was if Rachel expected the full truth from Jack, why was she holding back her own secret? She clearly planned to tell him- at some point- but I would have liked to see a little more on when exactly she was going to do that.
The supporting cast was good- her sister, her best friend and their respective husbands. No unrealistic drama there. There were times when I thought Rachel went a little overboard. In fact this would be a good discussion book- how much is too much? What lines can you cross when researching someone? There's even a discussion guide/ reading questions section, which was a nice touch. And the ending was good- it redeemed the slow pace a bit. I didn't dislike the book per se- it just was slower than I was hoping for, and not very suspenseful. But if you like the idea of peeling back the layers of secrecy in a relationship, this may work for you.