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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Little Black Lies is a debut novel by Sandra Block, a practicing neurologist.  It's set in the Buffalo, New York area and it fits in very well with my 'read cold books in summer' quest.  I liked it very much.

Zoe Goldman is a doctor doing her residency in psychiatry in Buffalo.  She is a very interesting character.  She's adopted and has been told that her birth mother, her adopted mother's friend, died in a fire when Zoe was 4.  She has scars on her palms from that event, but minimal memories.  She has a younger brother, Scotty, that she shares a home with.  Their mother has early onset dementia of some kind, possibly Alzheimer's, and they are losing her bit by bit.  Zoe has an extremely busy life with her residency, being on call, visiting her mother, and dealing with her own ADHD issues.  And as her adopted mother slips farther and farther away from reality, Zoe finds herself wanting to know more about her birth mother before it's too late.

This story takes place over a 4 month fall/winter period.  We see the patients that come in and out of Zoe's life on the psychiatric ward.  We meet her brother and mother and also join her on her visits to her own therapist.  We're with Zoe as she begins to have nightmares again, which she hasn't done for many years.  They all involve her birth mother and a dark night where she is hiding from someone who is calling her name.  The dreams become a bit clearer, but Zoe's memory is still not cooperating.  Meanwhile, she feels a sense of urgency to discover more about the tragic events that led to her birth mother's death.  Has she been told the truth?  Why has her new patient, a woman who murdered someone at 14, appeared suddenly in her dreams?  Why can't she remember???

Sandra Block is a doctor herself and so her setting and details all seemed very authentic to me.  The memory care that Zoe's mother experienced was accurate, as far as my own experience with my parents went.  I felt Zoe's frustration in needing information from her mother, but knowing that she likely would never get all the facts.  I also felt her love as well.  Dealing with a family member that has dementia is awful, sometimes funny, and has small rewards and victories.  The reader could also feel the impulsive thought process that the protagonist went through as she dealt with her own ADHD.  It was a little anxiety inducing to me.  I kept wanting to tell her to settle down, but I guess that's not possible and kind of the point.

And then there was a sense of menace that slowly began to creep in.  As Zoe realizes that there is more to the story of her adoption and her past, the reader's heart begins to beat faster.  You were never quite sure what she would find out and where the creepiness was coming from.  Well, actually, I had a pretty good idea, but it was just a guess.

I'm happy to see that there will be another book in the fall that features Dr. Zoe Goldman and her friends and family.  It's called The Girl Without A Name and I'm definitely looking forward to it.  I give Little Black Lies two thumbs up.    

31 comments:

  1. Wow, I can't help but wonder where a doctor would find the time to write a book. The book sounds really good!

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    1. I know. I thought the same thing. I think she is still practicing.

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  2. Sounds creepy. Thanks for the review. I'll have to check it out.

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    1. It was a bit creepy, but not overwhelmingly.

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  3. "Read cold books in summer"

    Whereas I tend to want to read summer books, in summer. And cold setting books in winter. :-)

    Wonder how many readers, do each? :-)

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    1. I don't think I'm the only one who is drawn to snow in the summer. Must be our hot temps here. Yours may not be as hot as ours. :-)

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  4. This sounds like a great psychological thriller. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. Thanks, Pat. I did like it and am looking forward to seeing what happens to the characters in the next book.

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  5. I really liked this one, too. Zoe is an interesting character, and the fact that Block is a neurologist does add to the authentic feel. I'm ready for the next one.

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    1. Me too. Glad that she is keeping them going.

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  6. This one sounds good. As an adoptive mother, I always find adoption stories interesting. Plus, who doesn't love a good thriller? I'm definitely going to check this one out.

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    1. I'm an adopted child and think that I find adoption stories interesting for the same-ish reason. I liked the psychological bent of this one.

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    2. I didn't know that, Kay. Interesting!

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  7. It sounds like an interesting read, and I like the Buffalo, NY setting, and the cold. I am currently reading a winter setting novel and just purchased a holiday time book! What's up with that-- it's 90 something every day here recently and my yard looks like sand and dried grass, lol.
    Glad you enjoyed it and I will look for this one.

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    1. The 90 something and dead grass is why you read the cold in the hot and then in winter (if you get much winter) you read about tropical beaches and the desert Southwest. It works I tell you. LOL

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  8. This sounds like a terrific read and I think it's funny your --cold themes in summer idea.

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    1. It just my own little quirk, Diane. LOL

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  9. Looks great! Having seen a few neurologists with Gage, I can't picture them being able to write a book like this. So, now I must read it :)

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    1. Yes, my experience with neurologists and my father was not a good one. I think that is part of why I decided to read this book.

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  10. Thank you for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Sandra, thank you so much! I did enjoy it very much and look forward to the next book in the fall.

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  11. Ok this book reminds me of Sharon Bolton's latest since they shared the same title. Anyways this sounds like a great read based on your and Jenclair's reviews. I'll be sure to check it out.

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    1. It was definitely a page turner for me.

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  12. This sounds really interesting, Kay! I remember reading Jenclair's review and thinking this might be a good one to check out.

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    1. Yes, I think her review was what made me pick this up.

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    1. I liked it and really look forward to her new book in the fall.

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  14. When I first saw this post, I was confused! I just finished Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton! Anyway, this one sounds good, too. :)

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    1. I know! I meant to read the Bolton book by the same name first, but just didn't. It's still on my list for soon-ish.

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  15. Great review! Sounds like Zoe has a lot going on. I'm intrigued about what she finds out regarding her birth mother.

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    1. She did have a lot going on. And there were definite secrets. :-)

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