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.
“At the start of Naymark’s excellent sequel to 2021’s Hide in Place, a block party turns violent in upstate Sylvan, N.Y., where PI Laney Bird, a former NYPD detective, and Alfie, her troubled 15-year-old son, resettled four years earlier.” — Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Devastating. Immersive. And somehow, still redemptive. In Emilya Naymark’s deceptively charming neighborhood—a dark and ugly secret lurks behind every door. And when two women go missing, the clash between the duties of a private investigator and the responsibilities of a parent explode into a series of impossible decisions. A brilliant and tense mystery with heartbreaking characters—and a gasp-worthy solution. Do not miss this! Emilya Naymark is a star.” — Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today Bestselling author of Her Perfect Life
What is your book about?
Ex NYPD detective and current PI Laney Bird is desperate to forge a peaceful life for herself and her son. But things rarely remain calm in Laney’s life—and when her neighborhood summer block party explodes in shocking violence and ends with the disappearance of her friend and another woman, she’ll need all her skills as a PI to solve a mystery that reaches far beyond her small town.
As people closest to Laney fall under suspicion, the local authorities and even her colleagues question her own complicity. And then there’s fifteen-year-old Alfie, her complicated and enigmatic son, obviously hiding something. Even as Laney struggles to bury evidence of her boy’s involvement, his cagey behavior rings every maternal alarm.
Laney’s personal life unravels as she’s drawn into her missing friend’s dark secrets and she realizes she and Alfie are in danger. With treachery blazing hot as the searing summer sun, Laney fights to save lives, her family’s included.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book? The most rewarding?
I wrote a sizeable chunk of Behind the Lie during the pandemic, which was simultaneously the most difficult part about writing it and the most rewarding. Difficult because, as with many of us, uncertainty and isolation affected my family and me, and I had to find new ways to satisfy my cravings for adventure and personal connection with others.
As a writer, I thrive on meeting new people and hearing their stories. Visits to museums, concerts, and the theater are a necessary recharging tool for creativity. The pandemic put a stop to all that, and I had to dig deeper for inspiration.
Writing this novel was terribly rewarding because I love my characters and all the ways they misbehave. It was a pleasure to dive into their heads and watch them self-destruct spectacularly. The writing itself is the reward. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it!
What do you hope other people will take away from reading your book?
More than anything, I want to entertain. My most fervent goal is to write the perfect escapist novel. As a novel reader myself, I love nothing more than to step into another life, another character. Even better if there’s a mystery to be solved. I hope my readers will enjoy vising Upstate New York through my story and get to experience its summer heat, treacherous lakes, and even more treacherous residents.
Who are your favorite authors (and why)?
Oh, my goodness, I have so many favorite authors. But let’s go with the five favorites at the moment:
Tana French, because she is the best at getting inside a character and describing an emotion without ever resorting to cliché. Her writing is razor sharp and original at both macro and micro levels.
Susanna Clarke because Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is so gorgeous in both prose and imagination.
Jean Hanff Korelitz because she truly understands how to write a deeply relatable character and then squeeze that person until something breaks. And she does it with a wicked sense of humor.
John Boyne, because of flawless prose, precisely observed situations and characters, and the ability to set an expansive range of mood—from stark to lovely in a few paragraphs.
Even though this is a list of five, I have a tie: Liane Moriarty and Lisa Jewel. I read anything either of them writes because they are both absolutely genius at creating extremely relatable characters and then throwing those characters off a (sometimes metaphorical) cliff.
What is your favorite book in the same genre as your work?
This year it’s probably The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I inhaled this novel in two or three sittings. A failed literary novelist, a foolproof plot that would make anyone’s career, and a moral dilemma. Or two. Or three. What’s not to love? This is about as perfect of a novel as I’ve read recently.
What does literary success look like to you?
Awards! Movies made from my books! Just kidding (not really). In all seriousness, I want what most writers want—to have lots and lots of readers. I don’t care if readers buy my books or get them from libraries, as long as I get to share my stories with as many people as possible and people find the stories pleasing. That would be literary success for me.
What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
I’m always learning. I hope that everything I do is better than the last thing I did, and I’m constantly discussing writing, going to workshops and writing groups and listening to podcasts featuring authors I admire. But the most useful advice I received came from the lessons taught at the Gotham Writers workshops. When I first started learning how to write fiction, I barely knew how to tag dialogue, and my teachers taught me crucial concepts about cliches, crutch words, and interiority in writing characters. I still think of those lessons every day when I sit down to write.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m a big fan of hiking. Give me an easy to moderate trail through the woods or near a river and I’m happy, even if it’s raining. Back when such things happened, I went to heaps of concerts and the theater, as well as museums.
And of course, I read, read, read.
How can our readers get a copy of your book?
Behind the Lie is available everywhere where books are sold. It’s on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent book stores, Target, Walmart, and more.
*What is the best way for our readers to connect with you?
About the Author:
Emilya Naymark was born in a country that no longer exists, escaped with her parents, lived in Italy for a bit, and ended up in New York, which promptly became a love and a muse.
She is the author of the novels Hide in Place and the upcoming Behind the Lie, out February 8, 2022.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTERY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.