Seattle, 1942. News of the war is interrupted by the kidnapping of young Max Ellis, heir to the wealthiest banking family on the west coast. When the boy’s parents comply with the ransom demands, the kidnapper is found dead and their son remains missing. For newlywed Vera Chandler, the story hits close to home—her husband Hugh is just six months into his job as the Ellis’s private pilot.
Within days, Hugh is deployed to the Pacific as a navy pilot, while Vera’s flying instructor and best friend joins the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Left alone, her parents’ words haunt her: If you really wanted to serve your country, you wouldn’t have dropped out of nursing school.
In an exchange for a favor that Vera can’t refuse, she is pulled into the Ellis family affairs by the desperate mother of the missing child. The Ellis family, Vera learns firsthand, is as dangerous as they are rich. Soon, she is in a race to save the child’s life, and it could be the only way she can save her own.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.25 out of 10
Plot/Idea: Cole's entertaining novel uncovers how far people are willing to go to save themselves and what is most important to them. She blends the tensions of a society at war with that of a family fighting its own personal battle, making the ability to survive the only currency that is truly useful.
Prose: Cole writes with the precision of a veteran in capturing the mood, circumstances, and backstory of each character. Her prose is descriptive yet direct, and it transports readers into the adventure of the story without losing their attention.
Originality: Only One Lie opts for the common route most mystery novels take when a missing person is involved, but Cole adds her own twist by mirroring the personal struggles of a family to the bigger problem at large—a nation at war.
Character Development/Execution: Cole creates characters who will effortlessly draw out human emotions, from pity to disgust. She captures the personalities and mindsets of her characters well, avoiding overreliance on their physical details.
Date Submitted: August 25, 2022