E.C. Diskin studied Radio/TV/Film and English in Texas (TCU), moved to New York to dance with a tap dance company in Soho, and finally became “an adult” when she moved to Chicago for law school. But after several years behind a desk, a drawer full of story ideas, and two little ones at home, she took a break from the law and began writing fiction. Fortunately, the fantasy of living a creative life became reality with the success of her debut legal thriller, The Green Line. Her second, Broken Grace, ventured into psych thrillers, and her latest, Depth of Lies, dives into the veneers and secrets behind the closed doors of suburbia. When she’s not reading, writing, binge-watching Netflix, chauffeuring kids, or at the movies, she likes to play with power tools and build stuff.

Early Review: DESPERATE PATHS by E. C. Diskin

Early Review:  DESPERATE PATHS by E. C. DiskinDesperate Paths by E.C. Diskin
Also by this author: Depth of Lies
four-stars
Published by Thomas & Mercer on March 19, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DESPERATE PATHS Review

E.C. Diskin’s Desperate Paths opens with main character Brooklyn Anderson sitting in a jail cell in Eden, Illinois and we immediately learn that she is considered a potential suspect in the murder of her father. As Brooklyn sits in the cell wondering how she has landed in this mess, the story then flashes back to a week earlier when Brooklyn, an aspiring actress living in New York, receives a phone call from her estranged sister, Ginny, begging her to please come home because their dad has fallen and broken a hip.

As soon as Brooklyn comes face to face with her sister, she can tell that Ginny isn’t being completely honest with her about what happened to her dad.  The details don’t add up and she flat out catches Ginny in more than one lie.  While Brooklyn is at the hospital, she runs into the town sheriff, who happens to be a close family friend. She learns from him that former Eden resident and now famous actor, Darius Woods is also in the hospital, fighting for his life.  Darius had written a screen play that would bring to light some very ugly truths about the town of Eden and some of its residents.  Not many people knew about the script yet, but those who did know, knew how explosive it would be.  Within hours of Darius returning to Eden to visit his dad and talk about the script, someone shoots him.

As law enforcement investigates the shooting and Brooklyn continues to try to get the full truth about what has happened to her father from Ginny, Brooklyn discovers some uncomfortable truths about her own family and realizes her entire life has been nothing but a lie.

Diskin’s setup for the story is brilliant because within a few pages, my mind was already starting to churn with questions I’m dying to know the answers to.  How in the world does a daughter rush home to care for her father and end up in jail in danger of being charged with his murder? Why can’t Brooklyn get a straight answer from her sister about their Dad’s fall?  What shocking truths does Brooklyn uncover about her family?  Where does Darius fit into all of this or is his shooting completely unrelated?

I also got really caught up in the messy sibling relationship between Brooklyn and Ginny. Brooklyn is adopted and is much younger than Ginny, so Ginny has rarely shown much interest in being a part of Brooklyn’s life.  This made me sympathetic to Brooklyn right away, as did seeing her in the opening pages working so hard to make her dream of becoming an actress a reality.  Brooklyn is determined and resourceful, but is also willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice to rush home and care for her father.  Because I found her such a likeable character, I was all the more invested in finding out how in the world she had landed herself in a jail cell.

Ginny, on the other hand, was not an especially likable character, at first.  She’s telling lie after lie to Brooklyn and to others, and it quickly becomes clear to Brooklyn that Ginny and her father are hiding something.  I was not a fan of Ginny’s deception and found myself actively disliking her.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers though so I’m just going to say that something Brooklyn discovers late in the story makes me take a second and more sympathetic look at Ginny.

The way the story is presented really appealed to me too.  We watch the drama unfold from the perspectives of Brooklyn, Ginny, and the Sheriff, and the three perspectives are so unique because Brooklyn is actively seeking truths about her family, while Ginny is actively trying to hide something, and all the while, the Sheriff’s investigation seems to be leading him closer and closer to the Anderson family.  The story was clearly building towards an explosive conclusion, but alternating between these points of view and their conflicting objectives effectively kept me guessing until the very end about how all of these seemingly unrelated events would tie together.

I also liked that Diskin isn’t afraid to infuse her story with some hot-button social issues.  Again, I don’t want to give away any spoilers since these social issues are a major contributing factor to the events of the story and the truth that Brooklyn and the Sheriff seek, but basically if it’s an issue that’s being covered in the news right now, it’s an issue that is mirrored in Eden, Illinois as well.

Overall, I thought Desperate Paths was an addictive read that kept me on the edge of my seat as I watched everyone’s secrets being exposed.  That said, however, I did find myself shaking my head at Darius Woods. Considering he grew up in Eden and knew exactly what kind of people he was dealing with, it seems like he should have known his script would not go over well.  In a tiny town like Eden where everyone knows everyone else and, of course, knows all of their personal business too, changing the names of characters doesn’t really go very far to protect any identities, especially if you’re calling your film Surviving Eden.  Darius obviously did not deserve to be shot for this, but it just seemed so naïve on his part and had me yelling at him a few times while I was reading, especially because he seemed like a pretty smart guy otherwise.

I went into E.C. Diskin’s Desperate Paths expecting to read an exciting thriller, and while I definitely got that, I feel like I also got so much more.  Yes, there’s a death and another attempted murder that drive much of the plot, but at its heart, Desperate Paths is really a family drama about the lengths family members will go to in order to protect their own and the dangers of what can happen when long-held secrets and betrayals are suddenly laid bare for the world to see.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

She knew everything about her family and her town. Except its secrets.

Brooklyn Anderson knows it looks bad. She was found wiping down a gun. His blood on her hands. Her father now dead. The incomprehensible nightmare has started.

Seven days earlier, Brooklyn had returned to Eden to care for her beloved father, who lay helpless in a hospital bed. Her estranged sister, Ginny, said he fell. But as Brooklyn soon realizes, Ginny is prone to lying.

Former Eden resident Darius Woods was in the hospital too. The famous actor had written a screenplay that would lay bare all the secrets of the town, but within hours of his return, someone shot him.

As the Woods investigation proceeds, and Brooklyn starts to question everything she believes about her family, her neighbors, and her home, secrets and lies begin to unravel. But nothing can prepare her for where those lies will finally lead.

And sharing the truth of what happened the night her father died might just make things worse.

four-stars

About E.C. Diskin

E.C. Diskin studied Radio/TV/Film and English in Texas (TCU), moved to New York to dance with a tap dance company in Soho, and finally became “an adult” when she moved to Chicago for law school. But after several years behind a desk, a drawer full of story ideas, and two little ones at home, she took a break from the law and began writing fiction. Fortunately, the fantasy of living a creative life became reality with the success of her debut legal thriller, The Green Line. Her second, Broken Grace, ventured into psych thrillers, and her latest, Depth of Lies, dives into the veneers and secrets behind the closed doors of suburbia. When she’s not reading, writing, binge-watching Netflix, chauffeuring kids, or at the movies, she likes to play with power tools and build stuff.

Book Review: Depth of Lies by E.C. Diskin

Book Review:  Depth of Lies by E.C. DiskinDepth of Lies by E.C. Diskin
Also by this author: Desperate Paths
four-stars
Published by Thomas & Mercer on September 26th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

E.C. Diskin’s Depth of Lies is a gripping, fast-paced thriller that will not only keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time you’re reading, but it will also make you question how much you really know about the people that you consider yourself closest to.

The story opens with a mysterious death.  Shea Walker, a happy, easy going mom, who is beloved by all around her, is found dead in a bathtub at a B&B.  An empty pill bottle is found in her room so everyone believes that she has unexpectedly ended her own life.  All of Shea’s friends are of course distraught because they have lost their friend and because they simply cannot fathom how Shea could have possibly killed herself without any of them realizing she was at such a low point in her life.

One of Shea’s oldest and closest friends, Kat Burrows, takes it a step further.  She absolutely refuses to believe that Shea killed herself and suspects foul play.  She decides to do a little amateur sleuthing on her own, along with their mutual friend Tori.  Kat is also wracked with guilt because on the night she died, Shea had tried to call Kat but Kat chose not to answer the phone.

Once Kat starts digging, she begins to uncover lie after lie, and seemingly endless secrets and betrayals.  More and more details emerge that make Kat realize she didn’t know Shea nearly as well as she thought she did.  Nor did she really know anyone in their circle of friends, for that matter.  What she finds not only makes her question the truth about what happened to Shea that night, but it also makes her take a hard look at everyone around her.

The aptly named Depth of Lies explores the questions of not only what really happened to Shea Walker but also the thought provoking question of ‘Do we ever really know everything about anyone?’

 

I thought the author very effectively used the structure of the novel to unravel the mystery of what happened to Shea.  The story is presented to the reader in alternating chapters from the point of view of both Shea and Kat.  We get to follow the last few months of Shea’s life and see what is really going on with her, while at the same time, we follow Kat as she is investigating Shea’s death.  The two storylines parallel each other until they ultimately merge into one as both Kat and the reader learn the truth about Shea’s death.

I also thought the pacing was fantastic.  I got hooked immediately and with each clue Kat and her friend uncovered, the suspense just kept building and building.  I also liked the added tension of having Kat’s spouse as well as all of her friends start to get agitated because she keeps asking so many questions and won’t let anything go.  Wanting to know if any of them were hiding anything made the story that much more compelling for me and I devoured the novel in less than two days because I just had to know the truth.

Not only is Depth of Lies a well-crafted mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but it also does a wonderfully realistic job of portraying the different relationships between the characters.  We get to see all of the lingering guilt between the friends because they feel like they weren’t there for Shea, but then on top of it, the more the friends talk after her death, the more we start to see little bits of resentment and anger toward Shea come to the surface.  They might be mourning her loss, but a few of them clearly have emotional baggage when it comes to the impact Shea had on their lives.

I also found the relationships realistic in terms of the novel’s central question of how well we really know someone.  I found this idea especially believable and relatable.  Don’t we all tend to keep certain things to ourselves?  I know as much as I love my friends and family, I still don’t tell them everything.  I think it’s normal to keep secrets, especially if those secrets are things that could be really embarrassing if they were to become known.  This aspect of the novel left me with a lot to think about in terms of my own little secrets and in terms of what my friends and loved ones might be keeping from me.

 

The only real issue I had with Depth of Lies was that I would have liked to have felt more connected to the main characters.  I was glued to the book to find out the truth about Shea and whether or not Kat would alienate her entire friend group because she just wouldn’t let it go, but otherwise, I didn’t really feel all that attached to any of the characters.  I usually like to feel some kind of connection to at least one character but instead I just felt like an outsider observing the lives of these women and their spouses.  It definitely didn’t impede my enjoyment of the story, which I thought was fantastic, but I think that’s what makes it a 4 star instead of a 5 star read for me.

 

If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, I’d definitely recommend Depth of Lies.  I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to read more from E.C. Diskin.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

When Shea Walker, a sunny, easygoing mom, is found dead in a bathtub with a stomach full of booze and pills, the shocking discovery shatters the complacency of her comfortable suburban community.

Kat Burrows, Shea’s longtime friend and former neighbor, is hit hardest. How could a woman she thought she knew so well come to such a sordid end? What could lead happy, well-adjusted, responsible Shea to accidentally overdose on alcohol and narcotics? Or, worse, drive her to suicide?

Compelled to uncover the truth of Shea’s final months, Kat delves beneath the orderly surface of her familiar world to discover a web of thwarted desire, shameful secrets, and shocking betrayal that suggests a scarier explanation for what happened to Shea. As her carefully constructed reality begins to crumble, Kat must question every reassuring assumption her life is built upon to solve the mystery…and summon the courage and resourcefulness to survive it.

four-stars

About E.C. Diskin

E.C. Diskin studied Radio/TV/Film and English in Texas (TCU), moved to New York to dance with a tap dance company in Soho, and finally became “an adult” when she moved to Chicago for law school. But after several years behind a desk, a drawer full of story ideas, and two little ones at home, she took a break from the law and began writing fiction. Fortunately, the fantasy of living a creative life became reality with the success of her debut legal thriller, The Green Line. Her second, Broken Grace, ventured into psych thrillers, and her latest, Depth of Lies, dives into the veneers and secrets behind the closed doors of suburbia. When she’s not reading, writing, binge-watching Netflix, chauffeuring kids, or at the movies, she likes to play with power tools and build stuff.