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Where the Truth Lies

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When a teenaged girl disappears from an insular small town, all of the community’s most devastating secrets come to light in this stunningly atmospheric and slow-burning suspense novel—perfect for fans of Megan Miranda and Celeste Ng.

The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.

When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.

Among those secrets: Abi’​s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’​s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders.

But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published August 3, 2021

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Anna Bailey

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,409 reviews
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,197 reviews3,035 followers
July 31, 2021
Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

Seventeen year old Abi goes missing from the small town of Whistling Ridge after she convinces her best friend Emma to leave her at a party in the woods. Emma is now racked with guilt for leaving Abi and she is determined to find out what happened to her. The deeper Emma digs, the dirtier things get.

The story is told with frequent, short, NOW and THEN segments, seen from the POV of numerous characters. The changes from one time and person to another can be jarring and I would have like to have stayed with each viewpoint and time for a longer period of time. Also, the THEN segments can be anywhere from days ago to almost 2 decades ago, which can add to an already confusing story.

At first I was enjoying the story, despite the sudden changes. But we soon learn that this is a cesspool of a town, everyone has secrets and the town is floating in it's own filth of prejudices, hatred, lies, cruelty, and debauchery. Each of these people and their faults could be real but when so many flawed and broken people end up in one small town, the story becomes overwhelmed with corruption without anything to add an iota of balance to the people. I trudged through the middle of the story, learning more and more about these disgusting people and not understanding why more kids and adults don't run away from this place as fast as they can.

The last part of the story seems to pull itself together. It's as if what resolution that we get seems to pour down a cleansing rain on the people and place, giving just about everyone, who isn't crushed by their misdeeds, some hope of a brighter days in the future. This would have been more believable if we hadn't seen so much vileness throughout the main part of the story.

Publication: August 3, 2021

Thank you Atria Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,304 reviews44k followers
November 22, 2022
Intense, dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of town chokeholds you! Those multiple well described, deeply embellished characters slowly move under your skin and grasp your soul, haunt you down!

Original title of the book is Tall Bones and now it’s gonna be releasing with a new name: “Where the truth lies” which is more convenient name for the story.

This book is true definition of depression and bleakness! A haunted, soul crushing, sad thriller story of a town’s missing souls who are trapped in web of lies. The prejudiced characters already believe in their own lies and the hypocrisy of church rule the entire town! Welcome to the Whistling Ridge: a town with full of secrets: the same place Abigail Blake walked to the woods to meet with someone and vanished into thin air.

Her best friend, 17 years old Emma Alvarez cannot forgive herself not insist more to drive her to the home. She couldn’t identify the dark figure waiting for Abigail that ominous night she’s gotten missing.

Emma is insistent not to let go of her friend! She is adamant to dig deeper to find more clues. Her investigation brings out more ugly truths of the town including Jude Blake’s dirty secret.

We’re introduced to multiple characters who are detailedly described are vivid elements of the town, starting from Rat who is living at trailer park to Noah who is working at the diner, vindictive Pastor Lewis who brainwashes town’s people’s confused minds, Samuel Blake who is Vietnam veteran, religious man, ruining the lives of his family members with his controlling manners and bottled up hatred!

They are like pieces of very big puzzle! Reading about all those vivid characters is quite fascinating but also compelling experience that tires you a lot. And sometimes you feel like this whodunnit story loses its direction, wavering a lot and changing its main focus!

But overall this was well built, thought provoking, high tension thriller with memorable characters ( I’m still thinking it will be well wrapped up with less characters but the developments and back stories of them are well built as well! )

I’m giving my 4 sinister, heart wrenching, provocative, sad, small town stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,709 reviews25k followers
March 5, 2021
Anna Bailey's beautifully written, haunting debut novel focusing on a American small town, Whistling Ridge, bursting with gossip, resentments, secrets, rage, lost dreams and hopes, judgements, bigotry, a pent up mass of hatred that revolves around the central place of the First Baptist Church. The Tall Bones, a local landmark, are a tall circle of white rocks. Its powerful hell, fire and brimstone preacher, Pastor Lewis's God and religion is far from compassion, love and kindness, it does not welcome outsiders and heaves with its anti-gay homophobia, it is insular, narrow minded, controlling, excusing and tolerating the unacceptable. The dark, heavy oppressive cloud and atmosphere that hangs over the town builds to a inexorable finale when the mystery of 17 year old Abigail Blake's disappearance breaks open the ugly underbelly of a town of residents where so few have redeemable qualities.

Abigail's best friend, Emma Alvarez, had not wanted to leave her alone to party in the woods, but Abigail had insisted on her departure, there is a man hanging around in the background that Emma cannot quite make out. Burdened by the intolerable weight of guilt, she takes to drinking heavily, connecting with Rat, a Romanian living in a trailer park, and Noah, as she makes the momentous decision to search for the truth behind the mystery of her missing friend. In a narrative that shifts from past events prior to Abigail's disappearance, to the present. We learn of the unpalatable darkness that lies behind the closed doors of the Blake family, Abigail's father, the religiously driven and abusive Samuel, his wife, Dolly, her brothers, Jude and Noah. Poor Dolly is told to look for answers to the abuse she suffers within herself, a damning approach of blaming the victim, whilst Noah, developing a relationship with Rat, tries to do his best to oversee both Dolly and Jude.

Whilst this is ostensibly a novel about the missing Abigail, what holds centre stage is the depiction of small town life, and its communities with secrets. This is a slow burn, character driven, psychological drama, so if you are looking for a fast paced read, this is not going to be for you. I found it to be a compulsive read, atmospheric, and engaging, the highlight for me was the quality of the prose. A novel that many readers will love. Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
July 16, 2021
After 50% I'm throwing in the towel on this one. There are so many vile characters, not a one that I care about. Some people have loved this one, don't know how, maybe the ending is good but I'm not waiting for it.

Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,722 followers
March 14, 2021
Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey was a random pick from NetGalley last month. I had seen it listed in a few places and watched it being promoted a lot, so I read the description. I liked the concept and was in need of a good thriller. It ended up being more of a suspense novel with a horribly caustic group of characters that incited major emotions in me. I definitely enjoyed the book and will be reading more by this author in the future.

Small town full of racists, homophobes, bigots, abusers, and religious freaks. They all hide behind what God intended. And they all deserve punishment, honestly. Most of these people were irredeemable. When parents, and especially a minister, hide behind doing something evil in the name of religious beliefs, we've found the root cause of why so many people in this world are horrible. A boy has darker skin, let's kill him. A kid thinks he's gay, let's use shock therapy to change him. YET... a man beat his wife, and the minister asks "what did she do wrong?" A father slaps his kids until they need a cane to walk, and neighbors say, "oh, God wants parents to decide how to discipline their children." How can anyone rational think this is acceptable because someone supposedly wrote a Bible and documented things millions of years after God was supposedly first around? Get with it people... you can't pick and choose your beliefs from the same set of documents. It's an all or nothing thing!

Truly, I can't fathom people's stupidity, but what I can fathom is how amazing this author wrote these characters to evoke such emotion in me. Hot topic that annoys me, sure... but Bailey makes each family unique and believable. The teenagers are conflicted and try to stand up but they are still young. The ending... a nice slight opening to doubt what we're told has happened. All of it really brings together a carefully constructed story of insanity and reality, all in a four-hour read. Some people have said the book paints people into corners and no one is really like this anymore. Um... are you living under a rock in the darkness; yes. Many people do act like this, and as much as it angered me, I was glad to see the non-PC version of this story playing out. Reminders are important or we forget how easy it is to turn a blind eye.

A few parts were contrived; one or two items were left too vague and should've been tighter to create ripen conflict. Some holes were open between time periods and relationships. All minor, and maybe it knocked off a half star for me to settle at 4.5. Either way, one of my top reads so far in 2021. Highly recommended if you can handle reading about violence, abuse, evil-minded people, and recognize half the world still thinks this way. That's what a book like this is good for - reminding us that no matter how far we come, there is always work to do to practice what God truly intended - love thy neighbor and mind your own damn business if the person isn't actually hurting someone else!
April 29, 2022
Wow. Can I just say…this is by far the best character development I’ve ever seen in a book!
Personality ✅
Flaws ✅
Philosophies/beliefs ✅
Physical character traits ✅
I was quite impressed with how well each character was portrayed and what made them unique.
There are A LOT of horrible people in this book and their words and actions are so wicked to the point of unbelievability. However, the Blake family in particular is broken down into their goals and motives and makes you really feel for their particular situations.
I will admit that this is an incredibly heavy read as it touches on A LOT of serious topics and not all come with happy endings. It would probably take up less space to list the non-triggers than the triggers in this book.
The ending wasn’t all that surprising and to be quite frank was rather obvious from the start, but I really enjoyed the ending nonetheless. There was a particular scene that drove me crazy about how little sense it made, but I can’t say without spoiling. This would have been a 5⭐️ for me had it not been for these two instances.
I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who is looking for a twisty thriller as much as I would recommend it to the contemporary crowd.
Profile Image for L.A..
453 reviews147 followers
June 29, 2021
Excellent writing skills...I fell behind on then and now referencing between chapters, but overall it was an interesting, disturbing book. There were some troubling issues in the little town of Whistling Ridge, Co. Some of the issues dealt with racism, bigotry and a preacher advocating love but with the weapon of violence towards outsiders or people who did not fit into his realm of cookie cutting.

I thought it would be just another missing person book, but it was cleverly entwined with people emanating a different twist. Abi, 17 years old, as a typical teen ventures to a party being held in the woods but never to be seen again. Her best friend Emma tries to persuade her not to go and feels guilty after she doesn't show up the next day.

The townspeople were quick to turn their back on outsiders, such as Rat, an interesting character living on his own in a RV. They were quick to judge him due to his gypsy qualities and their homophobic hunt. Abi's father, another unlikeable character, has very unsettling qualities such as his uncontrollable rage and her quiet mom holds a lot of secrets inside. Overall, even with so many unlikeable characters, the book ranks high on real life situations that makes you stop and look at the judgements and tension that are typical in small towns.

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,609 reviews10.7k followers
April 15, 2023
In Anna Bailey's debut novel, we get a deep dive into the small town of Whistling Ridge, Colorado, where 17-year old, Abigail, has gone missing.

Abi's friend, Emma, is wracked with guilt because she left Abi behind at a party on the night she disappeared. Abi was supposed to be meeting up with a boy and insisted Emma leave her, but she never should have.

Not only does Emma feel bad about leaving Abi, others in town seem to blame her as well.

The police believe Abi ran away, but Emma knows that's not true. Abi would never have left without her. Emma decides to take the investigation into her own hands. She needs to find out what happened to her friend.

Abi's family is a mess, but truth be told, they were a mess before she disappeared. Her two brothers live in constant fear of their father's unpredictable temperment, while their mother frequently appears checked-out.

Over the course of the story, multiple town secrets are brought to light. There's all sorts of racism, prejudice, bigotry and religious fervor. There's a lot of unlikable characters and unsavory circumstances.

Personally, I never felt connected with this story. None of the characters were distinct to me and I had a difficult time tracking it all through the multiple perspectives and then/now timelines.

I decided to give this 3-stars because I know there is a good story hidden in here somewhere. It tackles a lot of important, sensitive issues and I would never want to take away from that. However, for me, this reading experience was honestly more of a 2-star.

I couldn't wait for it to be over. With this being said, just because this wasn't my cup of tea, doesn't mean it is not a good book. If you read the synopsis and it sounds interesting to you, please give it a shot. It could very well be a new favorite for you.

Maybe I was just in a mood or something. Who knows? Crazier things have happened, but yeah, as of today, not a great experience for me. Extremely forgettable and bland. Solid, mehhh.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it. On to the next!
Profile Image for PamG.
881 reviews539 followers
May 15, 2021
Anna Bailey’s debut novel Where the Truth Lies brings readers a dark, disturbing, emotional, and atmospheric crime novel set in small town Whistling Ridge, Colorado. A teenaged girl, Abigail Blake, disappears after leaving a party and going into the woods. She had come to the party with her friend Emma Alvarez who feels guilty for not waiting on her friend and commits to finding out what really happened to Emma. Did she meet someone; and if so, who? Most, including the police, believe she ran away from home. But is that what really happened?

Many characters in this novel are nasty, spiteful, obnoxious, malicious, and mean-spirited, and that is describing them mildly. They seemed very real and it is daunting to imagine a town that contains this many vile characters. However, there are a few characters that stand out positively from the rest. One is Abigail’s younger brother, Jude. Another is Emma. Despite her problems, she is trying to do the right thing. The third was Rat, a Romanian living in an RV. While he had some problems, he basically wants to help Emma.

The plot is quite dark and contains several twists that are interwoven well. The author does a great job of world-building. I was able to easily visualize the setting. The small town atmosphere came through, but not the positive atmosphere often seen in novels. This one is full of secrets, alcoholism, racism, and a charismatic pastor that advocates violence and intolerance. Add to this drugs, rage, domestic violence, child abuse, self-blame, cruelty, narrow-mindedness, inexcusably bad parenting, gossip, lies, maliciousness, bullying, and much more. What do you get? A suspenseful and emotional novel that pulls a reader in and keeps one looking for something hopeful in Whistling Ridge. My one quibble was with the frequent shift of perspective from character to character and back and forth in time which broke up the natural flow of the novel.

Overall, this book was a study of many characters and group dynamics that was intense, compelling, thought-provoking, and impactful. What will Emma find out as she digs into Abigail’s disappearance and learns that Abi had her own secrets? Will she solve the puzzle of her friend’s disappearance? I will not forget this book or its characters for a long time, if ever. It is not an easy book to read, but it is important to understand that attitudes and behaviors such as those shown in this story line exist.

Atria Books and Anna Bailey provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for August 3, 2021. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
November 22, 2021
“But if the doubts keep at you long enough, he figures, you come around to this way of thinking: that unhappiness is a terminal illness .”

Ooh lots of vile people in here!
Very gripping read!

Emma last sees her best friend Abigail running off into the woods with a boy, after a party held by a series of rocks know to the locals as the Tall Bones.

Abigail is never seen again.

I loved the small town drama, the collection of characters both good and bad. How so much hate can be harboured in such a small place.

Abigail’s family is definitely the worst, namely her father, a violent disgrace of a man. But even between her and her siblings there was little love lost.

The timeline moves between the current investigation into Abi’s disappearance, and flashbacks to beforehand, secrets of both Abi’s and the others in the town.

There is the trailer park, which throws the most raging parties and which the local right wingers look down on. There is the Romanian boy, new to town and therefore not trusted.

I enjoyed all the different things that came out as we dove deeper into the town, although some of those were very dark!

Finally, the ending was well done.
August 20, 2021
*Many thanks to Edelweiss, Isabel DaSilva at Atria, and Anna Bailey for a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review! Now available as of 8.3!*

The smaller the town, the bigger the secrets...the lies...and the inevitable fallout.

Abigail "Abi" Blake is missing, last seen by her friend Emma at a party in the woods, and the town of Whistling Ridge has all but given up on finding her. Emma wears the guilt like chainmail, drowning her sorrows in bottles of whiskey with the mysterious Gypsy boy Rat, who is entangled with Abi's brother Noah. This 'indiscretion' doesn't go unseen by the watchful eyes of the religious in town, including the pastor and Noah's own father Sebastian. Mother Dolly misses her daughter fiercely but still subjects Noah and other brother Jude to live in this dangerous household, where husband Sebastian's temper and self-righteousness flares at the most inopportune moments. Combine this 'small town, small minds' mentality with a shady police officer, and the boy hosting the party where Abi was last seen with secrets of his own, and of course, Abi's OWN mysterious behavior...and Emma is left reeling. Can Emma and her allies follow the clues and pick up where the police left off, before this tiny community implodes entirely?

First of all, Anna Bailey...where have you been all of our lives?

From the first page, I was scintillated by her rich and detailed prose. This is a writer fresh off of her creative writing education, and it shows. Bailey has been compared to the likes of Celeste Ng, and I completely understand why. The same slow-burn tension and sense of character development shine here, amidst metaphor and descriptors aplenty that take you right to the heart of this small Colorado town. Bailey hails from the UK, and was inspired to write this novel in part by her time living in a similar town in the US and I have to say---she did capture it. The good, bad, and ESPECIALLY the ugly. There is a lot of inherent racism and prejudice bubbling in this town, and Bailey holds no punches taking digs at the dark side of religion and the problems its followers create.

This is SO much more than a missing persons story, although there are a few twists and turns along the way to give the reader much to ponder throughout and enough fodder to keep you from guessing the ending. While I admit it was a bit unpredictable, I was left slightly underwhelmed by the reveal of the perpetrator. This probably is due more to my penchant for twisty psychological thrillers and a tendency to fall into this habit of looking for the person I least expect to be at the helm of the mayhem. In this case, this book offers so many potential options (and obviously unlikable characters!) that there were too many options for the answers to be COMPLETELY shocking, but Bailey's intent isn't to reinvent the wheel in this sense, but to give you her take on a slightly dirty underbelly of America--and she absolutely succeeds!

Where The Truth Lies takes its readers on a dark, suspenseful, and thought-provoking journey deep into this tiny Colorado town, driven by the prolific pen of Anna Bailey, a newcomer to the field who has so much to offer us. I'm already excited for her next release!

4 ⭐
Profile Image for Christina.
547 reviews204 followers
August 11, 2021
This is a very well-written debut novel about a missing girl. I love to find thrillers that are written well, and not just plot points thrown together for thrills. This book delivers on the writing, and Anna Bailey is a talent. The book is very atmospheric.

The book is more of a deep character study of a number of folks in a small town than a fast-paced thriller, so ultimately I found it a bit slow. Part of the problem is that most of the characters are pretty unlikeable. I actually love unlikeable characters, but in this case none of them drew me in enough to be interested in them as much as I would have liked. The moving timelines of the book also got a little hard for me to follow, because once I got somewhat invested in a character or situation, the scene would switch.

Though I really appreciated the writing and the issues the story touched upon, I found it a bit too slow and wished the characters were more compelling to me. I would definitely try this author again because I enjoy her writing. But this one just didn’t speak to me. As you’ll see, there are many people who loved this book so your mileage may vary, but I prefer a more plot-driven thriller or a book with at least one character I can either really love or love to hate.

Thanks to Atria Books, NetGalley and the author for the ARC.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,418 reviews35.2k followers
August 4, 2021
The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.

You're telling me! The secrets are many and the characters are clinging to their secrets with all that they have.

Seventeen-year-old Abagail (Abi) goes missing after attending a party in the woods of Whistling Ridge. Her best friend, Emma feels tremendous guilt over leaving Abi alone at the party. She wants to know what happened to her friend and searches for the truth. The police, initially believe that Abi ran away but when evidence is found, it changes everything. The Town, the people, the woods all hold secrets and with this discovery those secrets are threatened.

There are many players here and may things that will be unsettling for some. This small town is full of gossip, racists, of bullies, rage, bigotry, hate, the haves and the have nots. The church with its Pastor should be a place of prayer, of rest, of welcoming of safety. But it is place of judgement, homophobia, blame, and so many other horrible things.

This town is full of unlikeable characters who are simply horrible and do terrible things to each other. All the characters introduced have some part to play in the book. As Emma attempts to learn what happened to her friend, she learns that her friends had sad secrets as well.

What happens when you turn a blind eye? What happens when you don't want to know? What happens when rage is turned loose? What happens to outsiders? What happens when you deny the truth? What happens when you judge others? What happens when you push your children to fulfill your dreams? What happens when you don't stick up for them? So may what ifs in this book.

This is not a happy-go-lucky book. It's sad and heartbreaking. Elements of this book will evoke strong emotions in readers. There is the mystery of what happened to Abi, but there are also small mysteries in this book as well. Several characters have questions, but will they get answers?

This book is thought provoking. heartbreaking. well written and bleak. Yet, it was also well done, expertly plotted and captivating. There are some twists along the way which kept things moving nicely - it's not fast paced but meanders along as it brings the book to the conclusion. Will you figure out what happened? Will you be surprised? Read to find out!

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,182 reviews30.5k followers
October 31, 2021
I loved this! So good!

Emma is experiencing unbelievable guilt. She leaves her best friend along at a party, and now Abi is missing. Abi and her family have secrets, and her disappearance may require them to be unearthed. Living in small town Whistling Ridge, Colorado doesn’t help matters because of all the gossip and even rage.

Where the Truth Lies is gorgeously written. At the same time, it’s haunting, dark, and chilling with the secrets, bigotry, and hate when a town turns on its own. This is a slow burning, slower building story that really takes its time in showing each of its layers to the reader to then assemble into a story full of strong characters and atmosphere. I read this compulsively and could not put it down. Anna Bailey has delivered a stunning debut.

I received a gifted copy from the publisher.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,247 reviews642 followers
March 15, 2021
Sometimes novels set in small towns have warm, loving communities where kind hearted people offer a helping hand to those in need. This is not one of those. The town of Whistling Ridge seethes with resentment, prejudice and long held grudges. At the centre of it all is the First Baptist Church and its minister, Pastor Lewis whose racist and homophobic rants fill his community with a righteousness that allows them to harm others who don't conform to their white, protestant view of the world.

The young of this community behave much as the young do anywhere. They party in the woods in the shadow of the Tall Bones, a circle of six twelve foot tall white rocks. They drink a little too much, experiment with drugs, dance wildly and they fall in love. When one of their number, Abigail Blake goes missing after one of these parties, whispers soon start about her friend Rat, a young Romanian man who lives in the trailer park. Abi's friend Emma feels guilty for leaving her at the party despite Abi's insistence she would be fine. Abi's brother Noah wonders if she has run away from their drunken father who suffers from PTSD caused by serving in Vietnam and regularly beats his wife and children and makes them pray on their gravel driveway.

This is a dark and suspenseful novel written in two time lines. There is a lot more wrong with Whistling Ridge than Abi's disappearance giving the book a menacing undertone as the tension builds to explode in a horrific act of pure violence and prejudice that will crack open the town's hate filled heart. 4.5★

With thanks to Random House UK and Netgalley for a copy to read
Profile Image for Liz.
2,143 reviews2,759 followers
July 5, 2021
Whistling Ridge is “the kind of town where coyotes chew on stray cigarette butts and packs of boys go howling at the moon.” How can you not like writing like that?
Abi stays behind at an outdoor party when her friend Emma leaves. She’s getting ready to go into the woods with some boy. And that’s the last time she’s seen. She comes from a dysfunctional family, and the police are ready to put her going missing down to her running away.
Bailey delivers up lots of different characters, all with their own secrets and issues. You’ve got homophobia, PTSD, misogyny, spousal and child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and prejudices. It’s a bit of a too worn trope that Abi’s parents are fanatical evangelical Christians that punish their children for the slightest infraction and that the punishment for larger transgressions is actual torture. Also that the minister always sides with the abusing parent/spouse. Are these folks reading the same Bible I do?
It’s an extremely sad, gut wrenching story and I found it deeply depressing. That said, it’s also a very moving story and I just wanted to reach out to the children being so abused. The young people were all well developed characters, but the adults all tended to be cliches.
Bailey does a great job writing so that you picture the scenes taking place. The POV changes between the various characters which helps to move the plot along. It’s not a fast paced story until the climax, when it really flies at you.
At the heart this is a mystery and Bailey did a great job of keeping me off balance as to what might have happened to Abi. There were numerous possible suspects and my mind jumped from one to the other.
There are numerous triggers here so be aware of what you’re signing up for if you choose to read it.
My thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,541 reviews595 followers
April 23, 2021
Anna Bailey has written a sinister, dark, claustrophobic book. It is a beautifully crafted and composed novel that exposes the misery in the small Colorado town of Whistling Ridge. This is a slow-burn character-driven story with a suffocating atmosphere. The memorable characters are multi-layered and intriguing in their frailties or menace. I found it riveting, haunting and unsettling, the tension building to a disturbing climax.

Holding sway over the townspeople is Pastor Lewis, a fire and brimstone preacher. His sermons seethe with righteousness, zealotry, and the Old Testament God of punishment and vengeance for sinners. Absent are the New Testament lessons of love, kindness and forgiveness. He can stir up a mob to commit a horrible criminal act while the police look on or frighten some parishioners into denying such a God can exist. He is supported in his demagoguery by a powerful leading businessman with a son bound for athletic fame in University.

One of the most ardent religious followers is Samuel, who has PTSD and lifetime rage and violence issues. His abused and cowering wife ignores injuries he inflicts on their two sons, Noah and Jude. He takes his twisted religious wrath out on his two boys. Noah is discovering his homosexuality, which Samuel believes is a mortal sin against God. He dislikes the younger son because he has a disability, ignoring that the boy needs to walk with a cane after Samuel threw him down the stairs. None of his violence had been directed towards his daughter, Abi. He favoured her above the boys and his wife.

Abi was last seen after a party at Tall Bones, a place of towering rocks where teenagers gathered to drink, hook up and do drugs. Her disappearance inflamed the town with gossip, suspicions, secrets, judgements, resentments, and bigotry. Newcomers are unwelcome, especially a young man named Rat. He is a Gypsy man who becomes the target of homophobia and racism, living in an RV in the trailer park.

Abi's best friend. Emma tried to dissuade her from entering the woods alone on the night she disappeared. She remembers a shadowy figure of a man lurking by the trees. Emma is half Latino and has had her share of racist taunts. Her father left long ago, and her mother will not say why. Now full of guilt, blaming herself for not stopping Abi, Emma is drinking heavily and visiting Rat to obtain liquor. Emma has developed a crush on Rat, but he and Noah fall into a romantic relationship.

They suspect a leading, popular High School athlete may know something about the reason Abi vanished. Emma is determined to find out what happened to Abi and who is responsible. The police seem to believe the girl was a runaway. Numerous adults and teenagers seem to hold parts of the puzzle but refuse to divulge them in order to hide their own secrets or fears.

As events build up to a startling crescendo amidst some frightening and deadly occurrences, we learn what happened to Abi. There is enough guilt to spread around.

Recommended for readers who like a slow, haunting, unsettling, character-driven mystery. It is to be published near the end of June in North America under the title 'Where the Truth Lies.' 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,350 reviews3,005 followers
August 4, 2021
This mystery was well-written and had a haunting type feel to it. It's a dark and depressing read as you try to figure out what happened to the teenage girl in the story who went missing. The author did a good job creating a setting of this dead end type town with misery and heartache surrounding it. The only thing I would consider the weak spot in the story is when you finally get some answers to the mystery.

Every town has its share of secrets and Whistling Ridge is no different. Seventeen year old Abigail is last seen at a party in the woods and then goes missing. Her best friend, Emma, is devastated because she left Abigail at the party. The story alternates between events before the disappearance as well as the present day and follows a cast of characters including Abigail's family members.

You really get a feel for the town because there are so many characters featured in the story. For the most part it isn't difficult to remember who is who. The story incorporates some heavy topics into the plot so it's probably best to determine if you are in the mindset to handle it before you pick up the book. You really do feel bad for certain characters and their situations. I wouldn't want to read this book if I needed to be in a cheerful mood because the vibe does bring you down.

It's a slow burn mystery and you do have to wait for everything to unfold. Given the setup, you will most likely have a ton of theories like I did but you can't be too sure until the author lays everything out on the table. That is a strength of the novel, the reader questioning everyone and everything. Unfortunately, while the build up was good, the payout when you get all your answers doesn't feel particular satisfying. I guess I was hoping for something different rather than kinda ordinary. With that being said, there was so much more substance to this mystery than most I have read so even with an average ending, it was a worthwhile read.

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with an advance digital copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
528 reviews262 followers
October 7, 2021
Man, what a STORY!! I'm wavering between 4-5 Stars, but I'll settle with 4 for now.
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is a book I wasn't expecting. I had heard it was a 'good' read, but I honestly didn't expect it to actually bring me to tears! Any suspense/thriller that can accomplish that feat is in fact so much more - I truly believe this is a fantastic genre-defying debut that will surely impress many readers for years to come! Welcome to the party Ms. Bailey!!
Initially, it took me a few chapters to get into the flow of this read on account of the numerous characters and the writing style, however once I was settled in I eagerly devoured this one, up until the very last page. I felt that this was part coming-of-age, part mystery, love story, drama and suspense, with a cast of remarkable characters I soon won't forget. The characters in this novel were exceptionally fleshed out, and by the end of the book not only were they incredibly vivid, I actually felt like I really knew them. If you aren't a huge fan of character-heavy stories this might not be the book for you. Speaking of characters my personal favorite of course was Rat - the Romanian newcomer, and bad-boy-outsider that stood out almost immediately upon arriving in a small Colorado town full of bigots and small minds. There was, of course, a very heavy religious theme throughout, which might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me it just made the story that much more credible. To say Bailey was accurate in her portrayal of small, conservative, bible-belt America would be an understatement indeed, she was so precise that she actually brought back a mix of welcome nostalgia and unwelcome nightmares from my childhood growing up in a tiny and equally conservative Oklahoman town in the late '90 to early '00s. Great job indeed Bailey! The author's bio on the back says she based this novel off of real-life experiences she had while living in a small community in Colorado, and to me that was palpable throughout.
At the center of this story is the mysterious disappearance of seventeen-year-old Abigail Blake, who never returns home one night after attending a party in the woods. Did Abigail run away from her remarkably dysfunctional family? Or did something else, or someone else, factor in her disappearance? As we meet each of her friends, family members and other community members we slowly discover what became of her, which was fairly shocking in itself, however the lies that are uncovered on the journey to the truth is what actually made this story epic. I found myself wavering back and forth in my predictions, only to find that I was off on both accounts (imagine that!), which again, was quite impressive in itself!
The conclusion to the mystery will probably be a mixed bag for some. I especially appreciated what I perceived to be a somewhat open to interpretation ending, however I can appreciate that it will undoubtedly frustrate some. I felt that it was utterly realistic, as I've learned through my ID channel and podcast binging, many times with teenage disappearances we never do find out the entire truth. Again, my interpretation of the ending was one of hope, and I'm sticking to it!
I feel that discussing any more details of the plot would definitely spoil prospective readers, so I recommend going in with little to zero knowledge of it. Just know that there are some major triggers in LGBTQ hate crimes, abuse (spousal and child), and religious zealotry, which especially got me riled up! I can't wait to read Bailey's next release, she's certainly one of my new favorites!
Profile Image for DeAnn.
1,357 reviews
October 29, 2021
3.5 Small Town Story

I love that this one was set in a small mountain town in Colorado, however it wasn’t the nicest small town! Filled with lots of lies, secrets, suspicion, unlikeable characters, including a powerful preacher. This was a darker read than I expected.

Whistling Ridge is home to best friends Emma and Abigail, and we learn more about their friendship throughout the book in now/then short chapters. Abigail mysteriously disappears at the end of a party one night and Emma is devastated. Weeks go by and the (in over their heads) small town police force doesn’t really investigate as much as Emma wants as they think Abigail just ran away.

We meet Abigail’s family – the abusive father, her two brothers, and a mother who has retreated into isolation under a very religious husband. There’s also the handsome Romanian immigrant, Rat, who has a strong connection with Abi’s brother Noah.

Things really heat up in the town and suspicions fall on Rat as the outsider. Secrets are bound to come out and I truly worried for Emma, Abi’s brothers, and Rat. Just what did happen to Abigail, and will the truth destroy them all?

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for the copy of this one to read and review.
Profile Image for Lia.
47 reviews67 followers
March 21, 2021
That summary was nothing if not accurate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to set this aside to just breathe.

A missing girl, a small town and a guilt-ridden best friend.

Whistling Ridge, the idyllic town with an uplifting community where everyone is cheerful and you get all the milkshakes you could possibly drink, on the house. You have your life all planned out and know exactly where you’re headed, the only worry being how much you’re going to miss those god- awful milkshakes. How lovely does that sound? 👀

Unfortunately, this is not that type of town and this most certainly is not that type of story. This makes Riverdale seem like a carnival ride in comparison😐

The reality of Whistling Ridge is far worse and its residents beyond reproach; many of whom are racist bigots, homophobes, fascists, religious freaks and easily-influenced pee-brained adults.

As much as I was disgusted and infuriated by many of the events which took place, I was equally taken in by the atmospheric writing and unique characters✨

Debut author, Anna Bailey, was able to bring these characters to life in a way that felt so real. They each have their own quirks and sense of individuality which maintained my interest. Especially, the enigmatic Romanian, Rat who sweeps into town like it’s nobody’s business. And, whose presence has resulted in a good amount of trouble in Noah Blake’s life.

Samuel Blake having been to war and back is prone to bouts of fits, his rage knowing no limits. And ever since Abi has disappeared the conditions in the Blake house has only deteriorated. His wife, Dolly , driven to the brink of insanity is detached from the world and cannot muster the strength to care about anything or anyone anymore.

It sickened me to read all the things young Jude goes through. In a family that’s so messed up, this boy witnesses horrors no child should ever be exposed to. He’s the only person with an inkling of what might’ve happened to his sister but he is shoved to the side-lines by his family’s constant drama.

And then there’s Emma, Abi’s best friend , who does her own investigating which leads to many secrets being uncovered, though she struggles to make sense of them and this secret life Abi was living.

Tensions arise in town with the assistance of their dutiful Pastor who believes that if you aren’t God-fearing you are “broken”, and who wouldn’t care that a wife is being beaten by her husband or for the abuse of children, but is ever-ready to manipulate religion to suit his purposes.

The people in this town are quick to judge and gossip but will never offer assistance.

There was some confusion with the transition into another character’s POV and it lacked the careful foreshadowing needed to make a shocking ending. Instead, it was relatively easy to figure out what had happened to Abi because of something being "dropped in" halfway through the book without having any relevance to the scene taking place. That just ruined it for me😔

I hope these issues can be fixed during editing to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience🤞

It was a good read, focused more on the character’s lives than the mystery itself. This is a slow-burn story and I recommend it if you’re looking for something really dark.

Triggers: Abuse, Homophobia, PTSD, Racism

Thank you to Edelweiss and Atria Books for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

3.4 ⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Amanda.
899 reviews252 followers
December 18, 2020
Emma leaves her best friend Abigail in the woods. When Abigail is declared missing Emma feels she is to blame for leaving her and tries to investigate what happened that night.

Set in a small town where everybody knows everyone’s business, it soon becomes apparent that secrets are being held back and everyone has their own opinions of what has happened to Abigail.

I was completely gripped by this mystery, having read several missing children stories lately, I was surprised that this book kept me so enthralled. I loved the setting of a small town where the characters are very life like, making this a very addictive read!!

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Denise.
509 reviews385 followers
March 1, 2021
As they say, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.” Well, here I am to be the little gray rain cloud in the midst of all the early, bright and sunny 4 and 5-star reviews, as while I think this debut author has much promise, this book just didn’t wow me for a number of reasons.

It had all the marks of a book right up my alley – A teenage girl disappears from a small town, and before long all of the town’s most devastating secrets come to light. When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma is compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods and sets out to discover the truth about what happened. When the police find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the townspeople begin to surface with devastating consequences. But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.

As to not give too much away about this August, 2021 release, I will just hit the pros and cons:


Beautifully written, atmospheric, slow-burn plot – I don’t mind a slow-burn thriller, and this one kept my interest despite not having a lot of action, which is often difficult to do.

Character development – Bailey does an admirable job with a large cast of characters at keeping them unique and relevant. I never had to stop and look back at which character was being referred to – they were all memorable in their own way. Only one or two of the characters were actually likeable, but that didn’t bother me either.


Awkward POV changes – the book is told in the “Then” and “Now,” but the time period would often shift in the middle of a chapter, and other chapters were not marked at all, so it would take several pages to figure out the POV. I can chalk some of that up to it being an ARC and perhaps final editing will fix that issue – I hope so, as it was a distraction and caused me confusion more than once.

Poor use of foreshadowing – there is a reference early on in the book that completely gave away the ending for me – something is “casually mentioned” that doesn’t really have any relevance other than to make the ending fit, so there was absolutely no shock factor for me at the end.

Too many tired stereotypes – Bailey is British, but I read in her bio that she had a “short stay in an American small town,” so I’m assuming that was the inspiration for this book. If I hadn’t read that though, I would rather think that Bailey googled “small town stereotypes” and then overused each one she found: every jock is a rocks-for-brains misogynist; every religious person is a racist homophobe; and every married woman is an uneducated, brow-beaten, “yes woman.” Sometimes I think it’s too easy for authors to just play the stereotype card, and it would be refreshing to see more out-of-the-box thinking!

Overall, it’s a good debut, and I think I will likely be in the minority viewpoint here with my somewhat unenthusiastic 3-stars; but for me, there were a few too many "cons" to get over the mediocre hump.
Profile Image for Repix.
2,225 reviews428 followers
July 10, 2022
Esto es un catálogo de personas miserables. Un pueblo infectado de homofobia, abusos sexuales, maltrato, racismo, machismo y sectas religiosas. Los saltos en el tiempo son terribles. La edición es malísima. Y no sé si está así de mal escrito o es la traducción pero es tremendo.
Profile Image for Diana | Book of Secrets.
798 reviews596 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 2, 2021
This book is grim. Tough to read. So at 50% I'm marking it as DNF, even though I did skip ahead to the end to find out what happened. The writing is pretty good, but most of the characters are horrid. Racists, homophobes, abusers & more — this book packs them all in, and in turn, the mystery of the missing teen gets lost. In addition, too many POVs and time jumps made it difficult to get absorbed in the story. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley/Edelweiss for the opportunity to read this book.
Profile Image for Summer.
376 reviews115 followers
March 9, 2021
I love a good dark, gritty, twisty thriller but this book was not that. The book overall was just miserable. Nothing good at all comes out of this story, dreadful things just keep happening over and over. If you have any triggers at all, stay away from this book. This story contains instances of, hate crimes, brutal child abuse, racism, domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, and incest. None of the characters in this small town did anything at all to stop any of the violence. In fact, most of the town participated in it(except for a select few).

None of the characters were very likable at all. Every single character in this book either knows of something horrible that has happened or has done something horrible themselves. The only reason I continued reading was that I kept hoping that something good would finally happen.

The author is not a bad writer, but this story and its characters were not well developed. I felt as if all characters were one-dimensional and the story just fell flat.

Many thanks to Atria Books, Netgalley, and Anna Bailey for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carol.
2,591 reviews80 followers
November 21, 2021
The story is told with frequent, short now and then segments, as well as from the point of view of numerous characters. The changes from one time and person to another is very confusing at times, since the “then” parts can be anywhere from days ago to 20 years ago. I was enjoying the story to begin with, despite the sudden changes...then we soon learn that this entire small town is a living, breathing, cesspool. There is no one that doesn’t have a secret or two or three. The entire town is filled with prejudices, hatred, lies, cruelty, and debauchery. It doesn’t take long for the story to become overwhelmed with corruption without anything to add any semblance of balance to the people. I trudged through the middle of the story, learning more and more about these disgusting people and not understanding why more kids and adults hadn't run away from this place as fast as they can. The last part of the story seems to pull itself together. This would have been more believable if we hadn't seen so much vileness in the main part of the story.

Actual rating 2.5 Stars
Profile Image for Judy.
1,155 reviews
June 30, 2021
Got to love books full of secrets and lies, and the small town of Whistling Ridge is full of them. It is also full of bigotry, racism, and gossip. The story focuses on the the Blake family when Abigail Blake goes missing after a party with friends at the Tall Bones (a circle of tall, white rocks that is a local geographic feature). No one seems to know what happened to her. Did she run away? No one would be surprised if she did. Was she kidnapped? Killed? Speculation runs through the town. Abigail is from a dysfunctional, abusive family ruled by a father who was deeply haunted from experiences he had in the military, drank heavily, and was physically and mentally abusive.

The book is character driven and populated with vivid and absorbing people surrounding Abigail's life. The plot was dark and atmospheric. The suspense well-paced. This is an emotional, engrossing read.

Thanks to Atria Books through Netgalley for an advance copy.
Profile Image for Jo_Scho_Reads.
664 reviews42 followers
May 1, 2021
There’s a party going on in the small town of Whistling Ridge but when Emma leaves her best friend Abigail near the forest she doesn’t know that she’ll never see her again and things will never be the same again. For this small town holds secrets clasped close to its chest - alongside resentment, lies, misery and rage. Whistling Ridge is a simmering pressure cooker of tension which is about to explode.

It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel. It is written exquisitely; some of the sentences I had to go back and read twice, just to fully absorb them. Be warned, it’s a dark and unsettling tale, you won’t be laughing. But the plot is tightly crafted, the image of insular small town America is deeply evocative and the characters all play crucial roles in building this gripping story to a crescendo, ultimately creating one hell of a brilliant book.

This book is getting rave reviews everywhere and deservedly so. Believe the hype and read it.

Thanks to The Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read this. All views my own.
Profile Image for Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk).
1,463 reviews2,380 followers
March 14, 2022
Niewielkie amerykańskie miasteczko w Górach Skalistych, słodko-gorzkie tajemnice jego mieszkańców i zaginiona dziewczyna w debiutanckim thrillerze obyczajowym Anny Bailey, który przyciągnie uwagę miłośników serialu "Twin Peaks".

Podczas lektury „Przedsionka piekła” czytelnika ogarnia uczucie osaczenia i klaustrofobicznej udręki, tego poczucia, że z miasteczka nie ma ucieczki. Zagadka zaginionej dziewczyny wciągnęła nas za głęboko, poznaliśmy zbyt wiele tajemnic, odkryliśmy zbyt wiele sekretów. Anna Bailey nigdzie się nie spieszy, daje nam czas, byśmy penetrowali rodzinne zależności, byśmy podglądali kolejnych mieszkańców, próbując dokopać się do tak potrzebnych nam odpowiedzi.

Trudno „Przedsionek piekła” zaszufladkować – to powieść obyczajowa i thriller w jednym, thriller obyczajowy, niespieszny, który zaskakuje pomysłowością i dojrzałością stylu. Aż trudno uwierzyć, że to dopiero debiut! Jestem ciekawa, co Anna Bailey zaproponuje nam w przyszłości.
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