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THE STORIES YOU TELL
by Kristen Lepionka
Minotaur, July 2019
342 pages
$26.99
ISBN: 1250309352


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Roxane Weary gets a three a.m. phone call from her brother, Andrew. A woman, a DJ who had briefly dated him before getting him fired from a hotel job some time ago, had turned up unexpectedly at his apartment in the middle of the night, terrified of something, asking to use his phone before disappearing into the night. He's worried about her, and the only person he can think of to ask for help is Roxane, a private investigator. She soon discovers there is reason to worry. Something funny is going on at the nightclub where the missing woman worked, a local crime boss is unusually interested in what Roxane finds out, and the off-duty cop who left his card at the woman's apartment turns up dead. When the woman's wealthy father begins to throw his weight around, Andrew becomes the prime suspect, and since he supplements his bartender income by selling weed, he's arrested for possession as the police build a case against him.

That gives Roxane even more reason to find the missing woman. When she's not busy investigating the source of a shipment of counterfeit luxury leggings for a client, Roxane fills in the blanks, supplementing a shoe leather investigation by tracking down connections through a local dating app. It's a deceptive hall of mirrors, where people curate their appearance to create a fantasy self and may not even be who they say they are.

Roxane is a hard-drinking, principled professional whose personal life is complicated. Her long-term relationship, never smooth sailing, is on the rocks and the second anniversary of the death of her father, a police officer killed in the line of duty, is looming over her family just as he had dominated them in life. In this third entry in the series, the trail she follows is tangled and complex, a frustrating collection of seemingly unrelated and unresolvable mysteries, punctuated by small discoveries that don't seem to connect until they do, and the action takes off. In the end, there's a connecting thread through all of it, including the investigation she's conducting for the owner of a trendy leggings company: In a society obsessed with appearances, the stories we tell are mostly lies.

Barbara Fister is an academic librarian, columnist, and author of the Anni Koskinen mystery series.

Reviewed by Barbara Fister, July 2019

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