Published by Michael Joseph
Publication date – 7 July 2022
Source – review copy
Lore Rivera was married to two men at once, until on a baking hot day in 1986, one of them found out and shot the other. A secret double life, a tragic murder.
That’s the story the world knows.
It’s not the story that fascinates Cassie Bowman.
Carrying the weight of her own family tragedy, true-crime writer Cassie wants to know more about the mysterious woman at the heart of it all: Lore.
And to her surprise, Lore is willing to talk – about how a dance became an affair; how a marriage became a murder.
As the two women grow closer, Cassie finds she can’t help but confess her own darkest secrets.
But when it becomes clear that there might be more to the night of the murder than anyone realised, can either woman face up to the thing they’ve been hiding from . . . the truth?
Cassie is a true crime blogger, looking for the story that will make her career. When she hears about Lore Rivera she thinks she may have found the one. In 1986 Lore’s husband shot and killed her other husband, revealing that Lore had been a bigamist for the last year. Always refusing to talk to the press, Lore agrees to speak to Cassie. But is the truth about what happened all those years ago actually as it appears to be?
The story shifts between Cassie in 2017, Lore in 1985 and Lore in 2017. As it does so, the truth about what happened 30 years ago begins to unfold. The reader is take through how Lore’s relationship with Andres develops, all the while tinged with the sense that she is holding something back as a narrator of her own life.
Both Lore and Cassie are flawed characters. Both are driven by personal desires, to the extent that they cannot see, or simply ignore, how their actions will negatively effect other people. I had little sympathy for Lore. Her desire to be loved in a different way, to act upon those desires, drew Andres and his children, and Fabian and their children, into a web of lies that they did not agree to. She lied by omission as well as directly. She wanted the comfort of a family and the heady excitement of a love affair and didn’t think past the moment she was in as to how things would work. She doesn’t seem to express any regret at what happened, at the hurt she caused and the lives ruined.
Cassie too has made choices that immediately benefit her. She hides her past from her partner and uses her work to hide the truth from herself. She puts finding out the truth about Lore and the book she wants to write before her relationships. She only starts to explore that and assess her actions as she gets to know Lore better.
This isn’t really a murder mystery. There’s the aura of the unknown about what really happened to Andres the day he was murdered. However, the story is more a character study, an attempt to look at what would make a person have two separate lives, secret from each other. What lengths are people prepared to go to, in order to satisfy some personal desires or need for excitement and adventure. The question of whether Lore is a narcissist or simply someone who got carried away with romance, with the desire to be loved isn’t really answered. Lore herself isn’t often clear on whether it was because both men provided her with different things she needed or if she simply needed something to distract her from the everyday. She often views her life as a one-sided transaction, listing what she gives to Fabian and the children, to Andre and his children and not what they get and need from her, which aren’t necessarily the same things.
It’s perhaps obvious to the reader before it becomes obvious to Cassie that things aren’t as they seem and as the story progresses the truth is revealed, or what is left of the truth that hasn’t been warped and whittled away by the last three decades.
Whilst a little long in places, the pace doesn’t overly drag. The prose reflects the whimsical reminisces of Lore with the almost frantic need of Cassie to find out the truth, with the romance of Mexico contrasting with the realities of the everyday on Laredo.
An interesting, engaging look at that rare instance, a female bigamist, and the fallout from her double life.