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Behind the Lie: A Novel
by Emilya Naymark

Published: 2022-02-08T00:0
Hardcover : 304 pages
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NYPD detective turned small town PI Laney Bird is in a fight to save lives—including her own—after a neighborhood block party turns deadly.

A story that will keep you guessing until the very end, Behind the Lie will not only grip readers, but also reveals the desperately true ...

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Introduction

NYPD detective turned small town PI Laney Bird is in a fight to save lives—including her own—after a neighborhood block party turns deadly.

A story that will keep you guessing until the very end, Behind the Lie will not only grip readers, but also reveals the desperately true decisions women make for the sake of their families.

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Excerpt

July: Laney
Laney Bird, momentarily overcome with panic, strained
to find her son amid the surging, shouting crowd. Then her

training kicked in, partially clearing the fog of day-long drink-
ing, and she steadied, bare feet firm on her lawn, hand brush-
ing against her hip where her gun would have been if she’d been

working.
But she wasn’t working; she was instead one of the ten hosts
of this monstrous party—more of a street fair as far as she was
concerned. Who had block parties with four hundred guests?
Her neighborhood did, that’s who. And things had decidedly
turned hairy. She cataloged the dozen or so people dialing 911, the
Duboises’ wrecked living room, that obscenely incongruous truck
inside her best friend’s home.
It was no accident she’d been standing on the sidewalk between
her house and the Dubois driveway during Oliver’s dramatic act of
demolition. She’d spent most of the party halfway down the block
in the game tent, taking on foosball opponents between swigs of
sangria. At some point during those hours, her son had readied
an amp and microphones and played a set with his HS jazz band.
Later she glimpsed him by their house, speaking with a girl. The
light had faded by then and she didn’t recognize his friend, but

BEHIND THE LIE 5
neither did she try. She’d been practicing the Zen of Leaving Her
Boy Alone, with varying success, since his last birthday.
Twenty minutes before midnight, before Oliver put an end
to the festivities, she gave in to her impulses and texted her son,
reminding him of their mutually agreed-upon curfew.
As she looked up from her phone and toward her house, she saw
a figure dart away from her garage, cross the street, and melt into the
unlit alley beyond. Unease soured the wine in her uncomfortably full
stomach, and she poured the rest of her drink onto the lawn before
jogging homeward. A quick walk-through showed her home to be
dark, empty, cool, and quiet, though tinged with an unfamiliar scent,

as if the party had infiltrated her rooms with its smoky, barbecue-
perfumed and sunblock-ridden breath. She texted Alfie again, but

her son was either ignoring her or busy. By the time the blue pickup
shoved itself into her friend’s doorway a few minutes later, she was
already balanced on the edge between irritation and worry.
The crowd parted for the EMS and police cars, and Laney
stepped aside, her stomach cramping with adrenaline. When she
heard the fire engines and caught a whiff of burning wood, she
gave up any pretense of holding herself together and ran down the
hill toward the flames, her shouts adding to the steady roar rising
above her normally peaceful neighborhood.
The throng of guests multiplied. Some of the people who’d
gone home earlier in the evening came back, crowding either in

front of the spectacularly ravaged Dubois house or the more mod-
estly ruined Forty-Six Oak. The fire had started in one of the back

rooms, put forth enough flames and plumes of noxious smoke to
terrify everyone, blackened the yard-facing siding, and was doused
before causing serious damage. At least half of Sylvan’s firefighters
had already been at the party, and they called the engine house
within minutes of noticing the fire.
Laney scanned the huddled groups for her son, then texted
him once more. It’s not that she thought he had anything to do
with this fire. Why would she? She didn’t think this at all.
And yet. A tightness settled in her chest.
The second ambulance of the night screeched to the curb in
front of the still-smoking Forty-Six Oak and two young EMTs

6 EMILYA NAYMARK
jumped out, removed a stretcher, and hurried inside, brushing
past the firefighters on the porch. A set of police officers followed.
At the other end of the street, the first ambulance bleeped and
edged past the emergency vehicles, carrying away Oliver Dubois.
“Hey, Dan!” somebody yelled out behind Laney. Everyone
knew everyone here, and now she also recognized the EMT as a
nephew or cousin belonging to one of the families on the block.
The man waved and disappeared indoors.

A sharp finger tapped Laney’s shoulder, and she started, turn-
ing to face Alfie, her only progeny and often greatest aggravation.

At fifteen, Alfie was tall, nearly six feet, and lanky, with blond
curls falling onto his forehead (to hide the acne pinpricks above his
brows) and cropped short along the sides and back. His eyes slid
past her and toward the house. Though he remained just outside
the full glare of streetlights and floodlights and emergency lights,
she saw he was blushing, his pale face darker, his cheeks fuller
seeming.
“Where were you?” she asked. She hadn’t meant to say it like
that, with suspicion, but the day was taking its toll and the fire
engines were not making her calmer.
He didn’t answer right away, studied the soot-streaked siding
in front of them. Then he shrugged.
She couldn’t help herself—grabbed his right hand and lifted
it, squinting at the red-knuckled skin, the torn cuticles. No sign of
soot. No odor of kerosene or lighter fluid. Only an angry scratch

across his forearm, still beaded with bright blood. But it was sum-
mer, and scratches, bug bites, and random bruises afflicted them

both. She started to ask about it, but he tugged away.
“Nice,” he said. “Good to know where I stand.” His eyes met
hers for the briefest second, and she felt her own face warm with
embarrassment. The past was the past, and she had to trust him.
Or pretend to unless presented with evidence. He shook his head,
spun on his heel, and marched up the hill toward their home.
At least she hoped he was marching home.
She rolled her shoulders to release the tension gathering there.

He had the right to be angry with her, but really, after what hap-
pened last year, what could she do with herself? With her dread?

BEHIND THE LIE 7
Worse, even if she mastered her own misgivings, the police had a

record of him setting fire to the school his freshman year (acciden-
tally, of course; they all knew that) and . . . well. That other fire,

the one not at the school—no one ever proved anything. And in
any case, it would have been self-defense. She raised her chin. If
the police questioned Alfie tonight, at least he was (superficially)
clean. She could swear to that.

When Dan the EMT and his partner emerged from the black-
ened doorway, they were rushing out a gurney and on it a limp

figure, belted in sideways, bloodstains seeping through clothes,
face obscured by an oxygen mask.

The crowd behind her gasped, and the chatter grew in vol-
ume. Laney, who had seen enough in her NYPD past to recognize

exactly what was wrong with the victim and lived on this block
long enough to identify him even through the bruising and cuts
about his head, felt the last remnants of drunkenness vaporize.
What the hell happened tonight on her perfect little street?
“Dan, who is that?” someone else called out. “Is he okay?”
The EMT looked up. “Volkin,” he said, as they folded the
gurney into the ambulance. “Says he lives here. Gunshot wound.
Got him right in the butt cheek.”
“That’s a heck of a lot of blood for a butt shot,” yet another
neighbor said.
“Is he dead?” the first someone asked, fear and excitement in
his voice.
“Not yet,” Dan said, slammed the ambulance door and started
the siren.
... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

What do you think about Society’s obsession with longevity and youth?
How do you think early trauma can affect a person’s view of the world?
How can the need to control the bad stuff become a pathology?
How do you think institutions for children and teens with behavioral and emotional difficulties could be better?
What is cartomancy?
Why is it important to show stories about the lengths women will go to protect their loved ones from harm?

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