Melanie Lange has disappeared.
Her father, Sir Peter Lange, says she is a danger to herself and has been admitted to a private mental health clinic.
Her ex-husband, Finn, and best friend, Nell, say she has been kidnapped.
The media will say whichever gets them the most views.
But whose side are you on?
Told via interviews, transcripts and diary entries, The Ugly Truth is a shocking and addictive thriller about fame, power and the truth behind the headlines.
Publisher: Bantam Press (16 March 2023)
Format: Ebook, Audio and Hardback (Paperback to follow)
Source: Paperback ARC review copy
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and to the publisher for the proof copy of The Ugly Truth to review. Having enjoyed previous thrillers by L C North under her other name of Lauren North, Safe At Home and All The Wicked Games, (both reviews on the blog) this one appealed straight away.
Told entirely way of way of Netflix documentary transcripts, interview extracts and blog/social media posts, The Ugly Truth is a truly gripping story of how someone’s life can be subject to scrutiny and distortion by the media and public and how the constant (so often cruel) attention can have a devastating effect on mental health. Peter Lange is the wealthy owner of Lange Hotels, his two daughters Zara and Melanie (Mellie) want for nothing financially, but they are completely different in personality and although there is only a few years difference in age, jealousy and resentments come between them. The eldest Zara, works with her father in the hotel business however Melanie, a former teen model, has a wild child image she has been unable to shake off despite the fact that she is now a successful Influencer/businesswoman and a mother of two, with her own Lange brands. Her life is subject to immense speculation and intrusion by the media. When she suddenly disappears, the entire family find themselves under the spotlight. With people close to Melanie and then Peter himself all giving ‘their side’ of the story, I found it almost impossible to know who to believe as my sympathies alternated between the two with each new revelation. You Tube narratives from Melanie herself further complicate the picture. I had so many questions. Was Melanie being held against her will and to what extent was her father involved – was he being protective or controlling. Or was the whole thing engineered by Melanie?
There are many background themes here including mental health and addiction. Through the various transcripts and interviews, the reader forms their own picture of the characters and their personalities and it is not always pretty. There were no limits to how far lives were dissected and the online trolls had a field day with their speculation and opinions. It’s not just Peter and Melanie that had me wondering. Some of the supporting characters, including family and friends may also have their own agenda and I was unsure about their reliability too.
Telling the story in this way has of course been done before and whilst it may be an unusual format, I found it so easy to follow. The structure is very clever and the story moves forward with pace and intrigue. I was completely absorbed by the unfolding events and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Will you #SaveMelanie or #HelpPeter?
L.C. North studied psychology at university before pursuing a career in Public Relations. Her first book club thriller – The Ugly Truth – combines her love of psychology and her fascination with the celebrities in the public eye. L.C. North is currently working on her second novel, and when she’s not writing, she co-hosts the crime thriller podcast, In Suspense. L.C. North lives on the Suffolk borders with her family. L.C. North is the pen name of Lauren North.