Gledé Browne Kabongo
“The truth is like oil,” an aunt once said to me. “Sooner or later, it will float to the surface.” I was around fourteen years old when my aunt told me that one summer and I’ve never forgotten it. So why is deception so common in the human condition? Is it deeply entrenched in our DNA? Are we born knowing how to deceive or is it something acquired when we tell our first lie to a parent because we were caught doing something we know we shouldn’t have? Do we find it as easy to deceive, as it is to breathe? Do we differentiate between deception for the greater good or for selfish reasons? Does it even matter?
In my novel Conspiracy of Silence, my protagonist Nina Kasai truly believed her deception was for the common good, protecting herself as well as those around her, of what she was sure would be disastrous consequences if the truth ever came out. So she dug in her heels and continued to deceive her husband and others. In the end, as it always does in real life, everything falls apart. And the very thing she was working so hard to keep a secret is exposed for all to hear and see. It often takes two or three times as much energy to repair the damage once a deception has been exposed, than if does to tell the truth and deal with the consequences up front.
So why bother with the deception in the first place? That’s a complicated question to which there is no singular, satisfactory answer. A U.S. President was almost impeached when he initially deceived the American Public and Congress about his relationship with an intern. The depths of the deception perpetrated by cyclist Lance Armstrong was recently exposed where Lance himself admitted that he lied about doping while he was a competitive cyclist. The fallout is huge, not just financially but as a major betrayal of trust. So was it worth it? It seems that Lance’s mantra was to preserve his image at all costs. Now everything he thought he was fighting to preserve through his deception may be at risk.
So why do we do it? Maybe, just maybe, the biggest deception of all is self-deception. The lies we tell ourselves about who we are, why we do what we do, the lies we tell each other about our lives, our situations. Or maybe the biggest deception of all is the belief that we’ll never get caught.
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She has the perfect life—and a secret worth killing for.
Nina Kasai is a gorgeous, Ivy League educated executive who would do anything to keep her past a secret, even from her husband. Seventeen years ago, she ran for her life and the truth has been locked away in the pages of her hidden diary, and in the mind of a disturbed woman who will never tell—ever.
When Nina lands the cover of a prestigious business magazine however, she can no longer hide from the powerful enemy she escaped. Phillip Copeland wants to be the next Governor of Massachusetts and he’s not above using his power and influence to silence Nina. He warns her to keep quiet about what happened all those years ago—or else.
As the stakes are raised, both politically and personally, Nina realizes the only way to win this game is to tell the truth. But who will believe her since her diary has been destroyed, and the only other witness isn’t talking?
Nina’s one chance at reclaiming her life hinges on a dramatic courtroom battle where nothing is as it seems. And when the verdict is read, four lives will be forever altered.
The telephone rang at three a.m. A drowsy Nina answered it.
“I have bad news.”
She didn’t need a psychic to tell her that. It was three in the morning.
“What is it?” she asked Dan McCloud.
“It’s Constance Buckwell. She’s dead, Nina.”
Nina turned on the lamp on the nightstand and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
“How could she be dead? I just spoke to her last night. She emphatically told me she was going to lie on the witness stand.”
“It’s a tough break, for her and for us.” Dan McCloud couldn’t hide his disappointment. Even at this ungodly hour, he was thinking like a lawyer.
“How did she die?” Nina asked.
“Heart attack. She was on her way home and collapsed on the bus. She made it to the hospital alive but died shortly afterwards.”
“This isn’t a good time to bring this up, but we just suffered a major setback and we need to rethink our strategy,” McCloud said. “This case is going to come down to your testimony. I’m still optimistic about our chances, but you have to be the most compelling witness in this case. Your recollection of details is what’s going to persuade a jury to vote for a conviction. Can you meet me at seven?”
Nina shook Marc awake. “We have big trouble.”
“What?” he asked without moving.
“Constance is gone. No more star witness.”
Marc popped up like a Jack-in-the-Box. “Where did she go?”
To hell is my best guess.
Gledé Browne Kabongo began writing at age 14 when she covered soccer matches for her hometown newspaper. She has also written for the Patriot Ledger and Metrowest Daily News, two Massachusetts based newspapers. She earned a master’s degree in communications from Clark University, and once had dreams of winning a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. These days her dreams have shifted to winning the Pulitzer for fiction, and a Best Screenplay Academy Award. For the past decade, Gledé has worked in senior marketing roles for organizations in the Information Technology, publishing and non-profit sectors. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
For more information, check out her author website, follow her on Twitter @gkabongo, or stop by the Conspiracy of Silence Amazon page.