Vanessa Lillie,

Little Voices

Review posted to NetGalley, November 17, 2019


A dangerous tangle of secrets as a new mother tries to prove a friend innocent of murder.

After going into labor early and almost dying, Devony Burgess (she prefers the name Devon) isn’t content to simply heal, take care of a baby who cries all the time, and suffer from postpartum depression, the usual concerns of new mothers. Instead she becomes fixated on discovering who murdered a friend named Belina. But the cruel voices in her head may destroy her before she exposes either the murderer or the other men whose corruption she uncovers during her quest.


Little Voices is a complicated, tightly woven story of pain and self-destructiveness rather than a conventional whodunit or a thriller. Devon’s tenacity enabled her to rise above her “Kansas hayseed” origins and the dark secrets of her past, which include hearing the voice of God when she was a girl. Devon rationalizes her obsessiveness as an adjunct to fight or flight: her survival depends on focus. Readers might be excused for wondering whether that is true, as over and over she risks herself and her new baby in her pursuit of answers.


Over and over, Devon’s “tornado brain,” as one friend describes it, leads her into danger. Years earlier, as a lawyer in Washington, DC, she stalked men she believed were rapists, proving herself willing to step over the line for a righteous cause but nearly getting her disbarred. Her thirst for justice continued to drive her to take the law into her own hands when tasked with identifying and prosecuting fraud; Devon hacked accounts, leaked information to the press, and even resorted to blackmail. She understands on an intellectual level that becoming obsessed with Belina’s death may cause her to lose her husband, whose position in city government and political aspirations cannot survive another scandal. Yet her unswerving loyalty to friends forces her to keep pushing forward.


Even the voices in her head, which return after her brush with death—telling her she’s a terrible mother, wife, friend, employee, person—cannot discourage Devon from pursuing information that others are desperate to keep concealed. One after another, her theories about means, motive, and opportunity are disproven, until at last she untangles the lies and discovers the terrible secret Belina was hiding. Only then do readers learn what Devon has been keeping from us all along.


Little Voices carries the reader deep into Devon’s experience in this unique story.