22 January, 2017

Gilding the Lily by Justine John Book Spotlight!

Gilding The Lily

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits' end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected

About Justine John
After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat
race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

Amelia tries to like her father’s new partner, but their relationship quickly becomes unbearable.  When her father becomes gravely ill, she and her husband are driven to extreme measures.   The novel is narrated by Amelia (in the first person) and Jack (in the third person.)

The novel opens with a prologue describing someone’s funeral from a female guest’s point of view, but the reader is not told who the guest is, or who is being buried.
Amelia and Jack Jones are a happily married couple living in London who both run their own businesses.  Amelia cares deeply for her father, Roger Kavanagh, but he divorced her mother in the 1970s and moved to New York so she doesn’t see him as often as she’d like.  Amelia and Jack travel to New York for a surprise 75th birthday party held for Roger, by his new partner Evelyn DeGrawe.  At the party they meet Laura DeGrawe (Evelyn’s step-granddaughter) and she and Amelia become friends. The party is a disaster, being totally inappropriate for Roger, and he reacts rudely.
After his divorce years ago, Roger married another woman, Helen.  Young Amelia never accepted Helen, which had a negative impact on her relationship with her father.  Helen was killed in a car accident and Amelia feels guilty about having not made the effort with her.  She promises herself to accept any other woman her father chooses in the future, no matter what.  When Evelyn arrives on the scene, Amelia makes a huge effort to get to know her, despite the new woman’s grating personality. At first, Evelyn appears to be an eccentric, but harmless American socialite, but it soon becomes clear she is more toxic than strange.  
Eventually, Amelia’s father becomes seriously ill and Amelia and Jack believe that Evelyn could be poisoning him, given her increasingly bizarre behaviour.  They go as far as revealing their worry to Roger, but he is horrified and disassociates himself from them.  Jack and Amelia appeal to some friends of Roger’s for help, but the circumstances are so bizarre, they don’t believe them either.  Stressed by money worries, the couple are at their wits’ end.
When Roger’s health deteriorates, Evelyn is at her most delusional.  She lies to hospital staff about being married to him and things begin to spiral out of control.
In the meantime, Jack (an ex police officer who specialised in narcotics), secretly contacts one of his old informers, Bill Skilling, who is willing to be paid to ‘solve’ the problem of Evelyn.  As he spies on her apartment from the building opposite, he sees something happen that lets him of the hook and he seemingly disappears.

In the epilogue, it becomes clear whose funeral in the prologue focuses on, and explains the outcome of the story in a shocking revelation that hopefully no one will have thought of.

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