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LIES OF THE HEART by Michelle Boyajian


by Michelle Boyajian

Pub Date: April 19th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-02131-4
Publisher: Viking

A murder trial gives a young widow a new perspective into her problematic marriage.

Each day, Katie Burrelli sits in a courtroom, listening to the grim details of her husband Nick’s murder. Each night, she screens footage of Holocaust survivors Arthur and Sarah Cohen that she shot over the past six years but somehow never managed to edit. The staff of the Warwick Center, where Nick worked, cold-shoulder Katie, regarding middle-aged, developmentally disabled Jerry LaPlante’s shooting of his speech therapist in the center’s gymnasium as a minor blip in his otherwise satisfying relationship as the Burrellis’ surrogate son. (How could Katie be so cruel, they wondered, as to want bewildered, damaged Jerry convicted of her husband’s murder?) Meanwhile, her family crowds her, her superstar sister Dana holding her hand as they listen to a parade of expert witnesses, then sneaking out into the hall for a smoke. The assistant district attorney browbeats her, accusing her of not prepping him thoroughly enough. And the neighbors turn away, as if Katie’s grief were contagious. Nick’s mother Candice hates Katie, her antipathy laying the groundwork for the flashbacks that reveal Nick as a garden-variety spouse abuser. Still, Katie soldiers on, processing her own history as slowly and uncertainly as the unedited reels of films in her basement workshop.

Boyajian piles on the metaphors but offers little narrative detail, leaving a moral and emotional void at the heart of her debut novel and making Katie’s search for justice more creepy than compelling.