Two Truths and a Lie: A Private Investigation

by Ellen McGarrahan


In this powerful memoir, a journalist turned private investigator revisits the case that has haunted her for decades, asking profound questions about grief, complicity, and justice.

In 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter for the Miami Herald when she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted of murdering two police officers. When it later emerged that Tafero may have been innocent, McGarrahan was appalled by her unquestioning acceptance of the state’s version of events. The revelation propelled her into a new career as a private investigator.
Decades later, McGarrahan finally decides to find out the truth of what really happened in Florida. Her investigation plunges her back into the Miami of the 1960s and 1970s, a dangerous world of nightclubs, speed boats, and cartels, all awash in violence. She combs through stacks of court files and interviews everyone involved in the case. But even as McGarrahan circles closer to the truth, the story of guilt and innocence becomes more complex, and she gradually discovers that she hasn’t been alone in her need for closure. Because whenever a human life is forcibly taken—by bullet, or by electric chair—the reckoning is long and difficult for all.

A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a private investigator, Two Truths and a Lie is ultimately a deeply personal exploration of one woman’s quest to find answers in a chaotic world.

My thoughts: I found I had mixed feelings on this one. The story was so interesting as it follows along with former reporter turned private detective, Ellen McGarrahan. While working as a new reporter, she saw a prisoner put to death in an execution in the electric chair, and it has haunted her ever since. She always wondered if he was guilty of his crimes or not. Some years later, it appears she had opportunities to dig into the story in her new job as a PI, when it started to really bother her again. She went back and began looking into it seriously, interviewing people and looking at police files and court records. Does she find out who really killed the cops, if it was the man she saw executed, or his girlfriend or co-conspirator? All three were at the scene and had access to weapons. You will have to read this twisty book to find out. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ellen McGarrahan, and the publisher.

Publisher: Random House – 336 pages
Publication: Feb 2nd, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author– Ellen McGarrahan worked for a decade as an investigative reporter at newspapers in New York City, Miami, and San Francisco before accidentally finding her calling as a private detective. Two Truths and a Lie is her first book.

4 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW (ARC) ~ Two Truths and a Lie

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