When Matt's half-brother Alex dies, his father refuses to hold onto the memory of his favourite son's death. It was hard enough the first time but breaking his dad's heart on a weekly basis is more than Matt can bear.

Peter, Matt’s father, is terrified his dementia will let slip the secrets he’s kept for thirty-five years. Unable to distinguish between memory and delusion, he pursues one question through the maze of his mind: Where’s Alex?

Faced with the imminent loss of his father, Matt is running out of time to discover the truth about his family. Tortured by his failing memory, Peter realises that it’s not just the dementia threatening to open his box of secrets, but his conscience, too.

White Lies was published by Legend Press in July 2014. Find a local or online stockist here.

“This is a book that grabs you by the throat and shakes you violently before finally allowing you to limp away with a crushed windpipe and post-traumatic stress. I read it extremely quickly, gripped by a kind of mesmerised fascination.

Review by Sarah Naughton, author of The Hanged Man Rises and The Blood List

With so much going on in White Lies, there is drama and intrigue on every page. But rather than becoming busy and complicated with so much content, the novel maintains a slick and powerful pace throughout. With almost every chapter concluding on a mini-cliffhanger, the reader is dragged through by an irresistible impetus. 

Most impressive of all, perhaps, is the fact that in a novel so full of pain and upset, Gatford manages to tell the tale with humour and make her characters likable and relatable even when they are acting questionably. It’s a novel that feels very real. A novel in which the characters are so well drawn, that you can imagine you know them. It’s a worthy winner of the Luke Bitmead Bursary, and a brilliant start to a promising career.

Review of White Lies by Fran Slater at Cadaverine

I found it engrossing and the descriptions of Peter’s descent into himself was heartbreaking, funny and infuriating. The book also includes one of my favourite descriptive sentences of all time: part of the old people’s home is described as smelling of ‘chips and disappointment’. There were times when I wanted to strangle characters, others when I laughed and again when I felt deeply upset. There’s a lot here for a debut novel.

Interview with Stephanie Pomfrett