Cover image for Sacrament of lies
Sacrament of lies
Dewberry, Elizabeth.
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Publication Information:
New York : BlueHen Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
229 pages ; 24 cm
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"BlueHen Books a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc...."
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When Grayson Guillory begins to suspect her power-hungry father, the governor of Louisiana, and her new husband of murdering her mother, she finds herself questioning her own sanity. She knows her mother suffered from manic depression and believes she committed suicide. But then Grayson discovers a video in which her mother accuses the governor of plotting her murder, and those bitter accusations strike a chord.

Is it murder or suicide? As she searches for clues to help divine the truth, Grayson both fears that she has inherited her mother's delusional illness, and fears that she hasn't. In this world of ghosts and ambiguous facts, no evidence seems final. Grayson is torn between loyalty to the memory of the mother she loved and loyalty to her father, whose charismatic ambition at once attracts and repels her. To make matters worse, her father has hastily married her mother's younger sister, Audrey. And while her father's marriage seems happy, Grayson's own new marriage is faltering under the weight of her suspicions.

Written in a fluid and captivating dramatic monologue that leads to a stunning showdown, Elizabeth Dewberry's atmospheric story explores how some families nurture cruel secrets at the expense of truth and redefine love in attempts to accommodate evil. Sacrament of Lies raises questions about family, love, loyalty, ambition, and morality in a kind of modern-day Hamlet set in New Orleans with the genders reversed.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Dewberry, the author of Break the Heart of Me (1994) and the wife of novelist Robert Olen Butler, has penned an eminently readable literary thriller set within the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Louisiana politics. Grayson Guillery, the daughter of a powerful Louisiana governor, discovers a videotape made by her recently deceased, emotionally fragile mother. The governor has instructed the coroner to rule that his wife died of a heart attack, but the family believes she committed suicide. In the videotape, Mrs. Guillery accuses her husband of plotting her murder. As Grayson attempts to discern the truth behind her mother's death, she begins to suspect that all of the people closest to her had a hand in her mother's demise, including her new husband, the governor's faithful right-hand man. Written in the form of one long, passionate interior monologue, Dewberry's novel builds the paranoia by increments, until the final explosive showdown, set amidst New Orleans' surreal Mardi Gras festival. Using a very distinctive narrative voice, Dewberry creates a palpable atmosphere of jangled nerves and incipient hysteria. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

A deftly plotted literary thriller that will hold the reader's attention on a tight leash until the very end, this psychological mystery set in contemporary New Orleans crackles with tension. The plot centers on Grayson Guillory, the daughter of a recently widowed (and recently remarried) influential Louisiana governor up for reelection. Grayson, distraught over her mother's recent death, finds a strange memento that seems to indicate that Mrs. Guillory's passing may not have been a simple suicide. Suddenly everyone and everything falls under suspicion her friends, her fianc, even her own father. Grayson's world begins to slowly tumble around her, each glance, each errant word ringing with her newfound knowledge and the reader can't help tumbling with her. The ones she loves most have betrayed her, and as Grayson begins to uncover the truth, she believes her investigation has put her own life in danger or has it? Has Grayson uncovered an unthinkable evil that now threatens to devour her as well or, shaken by her loss, is she traveling down the same dark path to madness as her notoriously unbalanced mother? The tension between the two possibilities is gripping, and Dewberry (Break the Heart of Me; Many Things Have Happened Since He Died) produces a riveting page-turner in which the line between truth and madness is thin as razor wire and always in doubt. Mystery-lovers and aesthetes alike will take pleasure in this well-paced novel that manages to be both taut with suspense and fluidly lyrical. The true mystery here is not whodunit, but if anything has been done at all. (Feb.) Forecast: A flowery jacket sends the wrong message, but blurbs from Richard Ford, Ann Patchett and Tim Gautreaux should help this Hitchcockian gem find the readership it deserves. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this compelling page-turner, set in New Orleans and framed by two Mardi Gras seasons, Dewberry (Break the Heart of Me) shows that some families need look no further than their own homes for murder, mayhem, and madness. Grayson Guillory, daughter of the governor of Louisiana, suspects her father of killing her mother and marrying her aunt in his quest for the White House. In this twist on Hamlet, the murder is revealed not by a ghost but by a videotape left by the dead woman for Grayson to find. One is sucked into the story on the first page, but rushing to the end is futile. The writing is so skillful and the wordplay so exquisite that one wants to savor each paragraph the way the characters savor their Sazaracs. Perfection from start to finish; for all fiction collections. Rebecca Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.