“A writer should never have the audacity to write about themselves unless they’re willing to separate every layer of protection between the author’s soul and their book. The words should come directly from the center of the gut, tearing through flesh and bone as they break free. Ugly and honest and bloody and a little bit terrifying, but completely exposed.”– Colleen Hoover, “Verity”
Mysteries and thrillers aren’t my go to books. The genres aren’t really in my wheelhouse. It’s not that I get scared. It’s that generally none of the characters are very likeable. And when I can’t root for a character, all that’s left for me to do is root for me to hurry up and finish the miserable experience of reading such a book. Who wants that?
So I usually stay away from books like Verity, by Colleen Hoover. But I needed a mystery for my Always Fully Booked challenge in my reading planner, so I looked for one that came highly recommended. I’m so glad I gave it a chance.
The story starts with an absolute bang. Our protagonist, Lowen, is headed toward a meeting with her publishing agent, when she is at a crosswalk. She hears a sickening crunch and before she can even look up to register what has happened, she is covered in blood. The man she was just standing next to is very much dead. He must have stepped out into the street without looking up at his phone.
Lowen is a struggling writer in New York City. She’s just lost her mother to cancer. She is about to be evicted from her apartment. This meeting could be her only shot at not being homeless within the next week. And now she’s covered in blood.
Thankfully a kind stranger helps her into a coffee shop bathroom to clean up and gives her the shirt off his back. Then, surprise, that stranger happens to be the client at Lowen’s meeting. His name is Jeremy Crawford, husband of the famous mystery novelist, Verity Crawford. Verity has been in an accident. The details are all very hush-hush, but the publishing house needs someone to sign on as a co-author to finish the last three books of her best selling series.
Lowen takes the job and spends the next two weeks living with Jeremy Crawford, his young son Crew, an unresponsive Verity, and a couple of rotating home health nurses. As the truth is revealed about the tragedies the Crawford family has endured, Lowen’s sanity seems to unravel as well. Just who is Verity Crawford? What did she want? What does she want? What if the villain of her beloved mystery series isn’t the only villain she’s created?
Verity is a page turner. And although parts of the plot are very predictable, they are designed to be that way to set up for the final twist that will blow you away and leave you asking, “just who is the real villain?” The ending will stay with you and have you flipping back through the pages to see if maybe you missed something or if there is a definitive answer to the major question you’ve been left with.
My main complaint with mysteries still stands. None of the characters were terribly likeable. But they didn’t have to be. They were real, and perhaps that’s better than likeable. It’s certainly more intriguing.
“What you read will taste so bad at times, you’ll want to spit it out, but you’ll swallow these words and they will become part of you, part of your gut, and you will hurt because of them.”– Colleen Hoover, “Verity”
- will keep you turning pages
- the ending will stick in your thoughts
- the writing is fluid and immerses you in the story
- an excellent entry point in the myster/thriller genre for those who are not familiar
- some scenes are definitely NSFW! (Not safe for work!) They are not all necessary to build the characterization that they’re used to create
“I think the idea of me is better than the reality of me.”– Colleen Hoover, “Verity”
- mystery/thriller fans
- anyone with a reading hangover (where no book could ever be as interesting as the one you’ve just finished)
- someone who wants to push themselves into a different genre
Books to Read if You Loved Verity:
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
- People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)
- What makes a good villain?
- Is everyone a villain in someone’s story?
- Does the main character always have to be likeable in order to make for a convincing or enjoyable story?