I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes
Published by Agora Books on October 22 2020
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, ARC
Buy on Amazon
When everything you say is a lie, can you even remember the truth?
Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.
If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.
That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.
This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.
Drenched in atmosphere and taut with tension, All Your Little Lies takes a hard look at why good people do bad things.
Happy friday everyone. I have a very special extract to share with you today for Marianne Holmes new book, All Your Little Lies, which releases today! HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY! Grab a brew and a few biccies and enjoy some awesome writing.
Annie squatted down behind Paul’s car and reached into
the exhaust pipe, her fingers patting gently until they
closed around his spare keys. An owl called out near the
railway lines and she hesitated, teetering between safety and
danger, and then withdrew her hand. The keys dug into her
She struggled with the external door to Paul’s apartment
block, while gusts of wind whispered and tugged at the hem of
her coat. In the sudden stillness of the lobby, her breath rasped
loudly. She paused, gathering herself, and listened for other
footsteps before climbing the stairs. There was always a tang
of transience in the building that at once absorbed and
disturbed Annie. It was almost her perfect environment, but
for the chance of coming upon another resident at the turn of
a corridor or a bend in the stairs.
Paul’s flat was the nearest door on the second floor. Annie
had never seen anyone enter or leave the other two apart‐
ments. If anyone did live in them, they were leading quiet
lives, out of the light. Annie knew all about life in the shadows.
A strand of hair fell into her eyes, and she pushed it off her
face, noticing the sooty residue clinging to her hand. She kept
her fingers away from the doorplate as the key slid into the
Yale lock, gently feeling for the moment the mechanism
engaged to push the door into the dark of his hallway. The
smell of Paul’s cologne lingered in the air and triggered fresh
tears. Annie closed the door softly behind her. As the urgent
sound of her heartbeats ebbed away, she became aware of the
ticking of a clock somewhere in the darkness.
The light switch clicked when she pressed it, and the
sudden glare stung her eyes like an explosion of fireworks.
She blinked. A shot of guilt flattened her against the wall. She
had no right to be here. Paul would be furious. But then, he
had no right to shrug her off so casually, as if she were noth‐
ing. She just wanted to be seen.
She stepped out of her shoes and walked to the small bath‐
room to wash the dirt from her hands. The make-up she’d
applied so carefully earlier stained her face like bruises, and
her hair had come unpinned where she’d tugged and twisted
at it on the train. Had she looked like this when Paul had
pushed her firmly out of the bar on to the street? The team
had stood behind him, surprise heating their faces, but not
one of them had stepped forward to help her. Her skin
reddened in the mirror as she stared.
Annie pulled off her name badge from the conference
and put it down on the counter while she scrubbed the
make-up from her face with the hand soap. She unpinned
her hair and tugged his comb through the tangles, erasing
her public self. Feeling fresher, she searched the cabinet for
his cologne and sprayed a great mist of it onto her wrists.
The droplets sunk into her dry skin, and Annie brought her
hands up to her clean face, drawing in the scent. She
snapped a photo of the cologne bottle and filed it away in
the folder named ‘Paul’ in her phone. Then she replaced the
bottle where she found it.
The lounge was stuffy and the bitter smell of the coffee
dregs left in a mug on the mantlepiece made Annie feel sick.
The wine she’d drunk earlier roiled and burned in her stom‐
ach. She crossed to the drawn curtains and forced a window
open, and the wind shook the fabric around her. It brought
the musty smell of damp leaves and sodden earth, and was
that the faintest tang of brine and the insistent cawing of seag‐
ulls? Among the noise, the querulous voice of a young girl rose
from below. Pools of light from the car park blackened the
shadows, and whoever was speaking remained out of sight.
Annie pulled her head in quickly, conscious that she would be
silhouetted in the window.
She returned to the mantlepiece. Annie imagined Paul
checking his tie there, the blue one embroidered with the tiny
green birds that he was wearing today, and adjusting the knot
carefully. He must have been in a great hurry that morning, to
leave his dirty mug there. She took it to the kitchenette and
made herself fresh coffee, sipping it while it was scalding, and
checked her phone. Jenna was still live tweeting from the bar,
image after image of smiling people enjoying themselves. Paul
was in almost every picture — his face flushed with the effort
of working the room. There was an hour, at the very least,
before he could possibly get home.
Annie studied the photos. Did she detect a hint of loneli‐
ness in his expression? His dark hair, that he habitually
pushed back with an easy sweep of his hands, fell untended
across his eyes. It surely concealed the real Paul, the one Annie
was convinced was in there, from the world. She wanted to
reach out and take his sadness away.
She drained the last of the coffee and replaced the dirty
cup on the mantlepiece exactly where she’d found it. Beside
the cup was an invitation to a wedding all but hidden behind
an old carriage clock. It was addressed to ‘Paul and Partner’.
Annie rolled the word ‘partner’ around her mouth. It felt too
business-like, too matter-of-fact. She picked it up and turned
it over, the card solid and confident in her hands. On the
reverse was a lovebird printed in gilt that glinted as she moved
it under the light. She propped it up carefully beside the clock
and then saw the sandstone figure of a child that she’d given
Paul in the Secret Santa. It lay on its side next to a paper‐
weight engraved with the firm’s logo and a dusty tennis
Annie set the little figure upright. The smooth texture of it
was warm on her skin, and she picked it up, cradling its
soothing weight in the palm of her hand. She’d watched Paul
unwrap it at the Christmas lunch and place it on the table
among the jokey baubles and festive chocolates and, just for a
second, he’d caught her eye. In that moment, she’d felt an
understanding pass between them.
Annie held the little figurine in her fist as she climbed
under Paul’s duvet, enjoying the way his smell mingled with
the slightly floral scent of laundry powder. She placed the
little stone figure on the pillow next to her and stared at its
round features, the knees drawn up to its wide face and the
arms circled around them, until the whole thing swam out of
focus. She’d found it in a charity shop, a foundling, and it
tugged at some long-buried part of her that was hopeful and
The caffeine bubbled through her veins now, and she
pulled open the drawer in his bedside cabinet. It was a whole
treasure trove of Paul: old letters, certificates, and
photographs. Annie found it charming and devastating. Such
whimsical collections are not for people who need to pack up
and move on quickly.
She flipped through until she found a picture of the team
at that summer’s sales conference. She’d been seated beside
Paul at the dinner, and, though they’d hardly spoken, Annie
had felt close to him. Paul had his arm along the back of
Annie’s chair and was raising a glass towards the photogra‐
pher. His fingers had skimmed the skin on the back of her
neck when he lent forward to put his glass down, and when he
sat back Annie held herself upright in the chair, afraid that he
would move his arm if she touched it.
She sunk into Paul’s pillow and closed her eyes, exhaustion
A crash broke the silence and Annie leapt from the bed.
The front door to the apartment block had banged shut
downstairs. How long had she been asleep? She peered at the
screen of her phone, the numbers swimming frustratingly. It
couldn’t possibly be Paul yet, but her stomach churned. He
mustn’t find her here; the humiliation would be unbearable.
She grabbed the figurine and stuffed it into her coat pocket so
she could plump up the pillows and straighten the duvet. Then
she swept the photos and letters back into the drawer and
slammed it shut.
In the hall, she pressed herself against the wall, listening
through the soft wood of the door. Annie could hear someone
whispering in the corridor. Shaking, she slipped her feet back
into her shoes and waited for the footsteps to move away. One
minute, two minutes, and then five minutes passed with no
further sound, and she pulled the door open, grabbing the
keys. She replaced them on her way back through the car
park, careful not to be seen.
As she reached the alley to the station, she could hear foot‐
steps coming towards her. Whoever was there would be
directly in front of her in moments. She tucked herself into
the rear doorway to Tandoori Villa and crouched behind some
empty crates, gagging on the stale smell of garlic and spices.
Her skin prickled with fear when she recognised the rhythm
of Paul’s stride. She held her breath and watched him cut
across to the apartment block. He paused, head down in front
of the door. Annie cringed further back into the gloom,
hoping he couldn’t hear her rapid breathing among the squalls
of wind and rain, but he finally turned the key and entered.
Annie ran down the alley, almost laughing with relief. The
sky was a cloak of black velvet, and the wind blew up a troupe
of dancing leaves spinning around her. When she reached her
car, she flung herself inside and drove home, the blood
fizzling and popping through her body like tiny sparklers.
ABOUT MARIANNE HOLMES
Marianne Holmes is the author of All Your Little Lies (Oct 2020) and A Little Bird Told Me, published by Agora Books.
She was born in Cyprus and bounced around the world with her RAF parents as a child but is now firmly based in Ealing with her own family. She has degrees in Classics (RHUL) and Linguistics (UCL), neither of which got much use while she worked in marketing.
Oh, I loved that excerpt! I was holding my breath when reading it. Happy book birthday to All Your Little Lies!