Verity (2018) is the breakout thriller leaving mystery fans breathless. Taught and tense, with a final plot twist delivered like a sucker-punch, the novel leaves readers questioning everything in the end — especially the truth.
Introduction: Discover how this thriller keeps you guessing to the very end — and beyond.
Table of Contents
Struggling writer Lowen Ashleigh steps off the curb on a bustling Manhattan street just as a truck smashes into a pedestrian in front of her. On her way to a surprise meeting with a publisher, the day had started hopeful. Reeling emotionally from the recent death of her mother, and financially from modest success as a writer, Lowen was hoping for change. Now shocked and drenched in the victim’s blood, she’s guided by a kind and handsome stranger to the restroom of a nearby coffee shop to get cleaned up. He even gives her the shirt off of his back to replace her blood-soaked blouse.
From this shocking opener to a gut-punch plot twist at the close, Colleen Hoover’s Verity weaves a tale where nothing, and no one, is what it seems. For mystery and thriller lovers, and fans of true crime, the novel offers up a unique spin on the established form along with a chilling look inside the mind of a killer. Or possibly, just a twisted imagination. For many readers, the novel’s ending was so disturbing that reader outcry led to the publication of a brand new edition — with a bonus chapter shedding new light that has only turned up the heat on the ‘Team Manuscript” versus “Team Letter” debate.
If you’re curious about the book behind all the buzz, one that’s left readers divided over who the villains, and victims, really are, read on.
A lifeline appears
After the shock of this opening paragraph, early chapters follow Lowen as she and the mysterious stranger’s lives begin to entwine. During their brief exchange in the restroom, Lowen learned his name, Jeremy, and that he too, had suffered recent loss. His twin daughters died just months apart. Lowen also discovers Jeremy is headed to a meeting with her.
The meeting includes Lowen’s current agent and ex-lover, Corey, that the publisher of world-renowned author Verity Crawford is looking for a writer to finish her popular series of novels. Written from the villain’s point of view, the series has garnered international acclaim — but the author, Jeremy’s wife, has suffered a recent car accident and is now disabled.
Offered a life-changing flat fee to take over the writing, Lowen struggles with this new dimension of tragedy. She initially rejects stepping in for another writer in the midst of such tragedy, especially working so close to the grieving husband she feels attracted to.
But weighing impending eviction against the offer of work and an invitation to stay in the Crawford family home while she reviews Verity’s notes and outlines, Lowen takes the job. Arriving at the Vermont estate, she meets Verity’s only surviving child, Crew, a young boy who seems lost and confused. Lowen meets Verity herself, now ensconced in an upstairs bedroom completely disabled by the car accident and cared for by a nurse. The famous writer seems unaware of her surroundings, a physical shell.
Reassured, Lowen is put in the master bedroom the couple once shared. Her history of sleepwalking makes her wary — though she’s too ashamed to share this with her host, and just asks about a lock. Going through the boxes of Verity’s papers, it isn’t long before Lowen spots a manuscript she doesn’t recognize – titled So Be It.
The book then switches to the opening chapter of Verity’s manuscript as Lowen discovers it to be an unpublished autobiography — with a chilling author’s note. Devouring the first chapter, it recounts the evening Verity met Jeremy, and their steaming hot romance. Verity’s voice is full of confidence, but more than obsessive about her attraction to Jeremy. The chapter closes on a chilling foreshadowing, when Verity confesses that Jeremy loved her like she meant everything to him, until he found something that meant more.
Overwhelmed by the sexy details and dark foreshadowing, Lowen stumbles into Jeremy. Making small talk in the kitchen, she asks him to recount his memories of the evening he first met Verity, in the hopes that what she just read is fantasy. When the details of his story match with Verity’s, Lowen is convinced the manuscript is genuine.
Now obsessed with knowing more, Lowen dives back into the next chapter. As Verity’s tale plunges deeper into her obsession with Jeremy, her addiction to him and his absolute perfection as a partner, Lowen devours the details, and finds herself more and more attracted to her host. The second chapter of So Be It closes with Verity and Jeremy becoming engaged and Verity getting pregnant, followed by even darker foreshadowing of tragedy to come.
The opening chapters of a mystery have a lot of work to do. They introduce the main characters, along with details about their histories, faults or circumstances that will drive each of them toward a reveal. They detail the central conflict and establish the setting in which the story will play out. The opening chapters of Verity also establish several parallels that will have deep significance as events unfold.
First, the recent losses experienced by Lowen and Jeremy in an emotionally-charged opening scene literally splattered with blood. We discover that Lowen’s relationship with her literary agent, Corey, was ill-fated because he’d fallen in love with her written characters and not her as a person. As Lowen finds herself devouring Verity’s manuscript about Jeremy, it becomes clear that she may be making the same mistake.
The most central parallel is also being drawn — between Lowen and Verity. The structure of a book-within-a-book gives the protagonist voice to both these central characters. Functioning as dark mirrors of one another, the two writers have contrasting lives in almost everything, except both have suffered, and they’re both attracted to Jeremy. Lowen’s perception of her sleepwalking as a threat, sets up a parallel for Verity also becoming a threat..
Finally, the setting: an expansive, dark and isolated Vermont estate that was itself the scene of a family tragedy when daughter Harper drowned in the lake behind the house. Lowen’s eviction means she’ll be forced to stay at least a few days in the home despite her instinct to get out. With the characters under the same roof, the mystery of the manuscript can unfold, as we’re driven through parallel discoveries from both Lowen and Verity’s perspective.
Into the darkness
The next chapters introduce new layers of threat as the plot develops along two tracks: from Lowen’s point of view, and in Verity’s autobiography. First, Lowen notices Verity out on the lawn with her nurse on a sunny afternoon — the picture of a vegetative invalid. Lowen sees the nurse walking away, and looking back finds Verity staring at her and making direct eye contact. In this moment of shock and horror, Lowen stumbles backwards and away from Verity’s gaze, which seems to follow her — to a point.
Later, Lowen observes young Crew glancing up toward his mother’s bedroom window and waving. Alarmed, knowing the nurse isn’t upstairs, Lowen looks up to see the bedroom curtain shift. Now convinced Verity might be faking her condition, Lowen races upstairs only to find Verity in bed, with an oscillating fan moving the curtains.
At this moment, Lowen receives a call that her rental application has been denied due to eviction. Overhearing the conversation, Jeremy invites her to stay in the home until she’s paid for Verity’s next book. Despite the uncanny developments with Verity, Lowen agrees.
Lowen dives deeper into Verity’s manuscript, and she’s sickened by its contents. Verity’s pregnancy isn’t a cause for joy to her, but disgust and outrage. Verity recounts her fear that her body will change and Jeremy won’t want her, including her revulsion when her pregnancy starts showing. When Verity learns she’s pregnant with twins, Jeremy’s joy actually increases Verity’s distress. She sees her developing babies as competition for Jeremy’s love. After he confesses one evening that his love for them is as intense as his love for her, Verity spends the rest of the night in the bathroom trying to abort them with a wire hanger.
As Lowen tries to digest this latest depravity, a scream from Crew brings her running to Verity’s room, where the boy spends most of his days. While alone with his mother, he somehow cut himself with a knife. Lowen sees the knife on the floor as she swoops into the room and carries him off to the bathroom to assess the damage. Asking him what happened, Crew blurts out that his mother tells him not to touch her knives. Not told him, in the past, but tells him — in the present. With Crew’s words still echoing in her mind, Lowen quietly creeps into Verity’s room to find the knife — but it’s gone.
Lowen finds the next chapter of Verity’s manuscript recounts the twin’s birth. Twins Lowen already knows have died only months apart. When one is born with a small scar, possibly from the abortion attempt, Verity fears getting found out. Jeremy is the opposite: Verity finds his devotion to his children both sexy and threatening to her.
Now, Lowen’s growing rage at Verity mirrors the growing suspicion about Verity’s real condition. But the intimate portrait of Jeremy is more and more compelling. Lowen falls asleep the next night scanning Verity’s manuscript for sex scenes with him to fuel her fantasies — and wakes up in Verity’s bed.
In the development phase of this mystery thriller, several new crisis points are on the horizon. First, Lowen’s fantasy of herself playing happy family with Jeremy and Crew is furthered each time she returns to Verity’s manuscripts and discovers more of the writer’s monstrous thoughts and actions. Feeling she has the inside story on Verity that no one else knows, her choice to hide the manuscript to protect the growing fantasy ramps up the emotional stakes.
Verity becomes more and more of a physical threat – as her eye contact, movements, and possibly speaking with Crew feed Lowen’s doubts. The missing knife on the bedroom floor and Crew’s accident ramp up her concern, and cements the growing trauma bond she’s formed with the family.
Now on heightened alert, her sleepwalking into Verity’s bed in the night represents the midpoint of the mystery. The psychological intimacy of Verity and Lowen has become physical at this moment, and it triggers the chain of events in the next chapters that will force both the crisis and reveal of the mystery at breakneck speed.
Confessions and confrontations
Lowen’s scream upon waking in Verity’s bed signals an acceleration in the pace. Jeremy confronts her about it, forcing Lowen’s confession about her history of sleepwalking, as well as her fear that it makes her a threat. To reassure her, he installs a lock on the outside of the master bedroom door, and offers to lock her in at night. To comfort her, he also crawls into bed to cuddle her. Their intimacy leaps forward.
Lowen learns more key details from the manuscript, too. First, that Verity has had a dream in which one twin, Harper, kills her twin sister, Chastain. The dream actually triggers feelings of love for Chastain in Verity, and a corresponding hatred of Harper. Verity is convinced Harper will murder her sister. When the twins wake later that night, Verity attempts to smother infant Harper to protect Chastain, only stopping when Jeremy enters the room to check on them.
The next chapter recounts violent conflicts erupting between Verity and Jeremy over the children. Verity’s favoring of Chastain over Harper is fanning the flames. we’re introduced to Chastain’s peanut allergy, the eventual cause of her tragic death, and the idea that Harper may be non-neurotypical.
In the present, Lowen and Jeremy’s physical intimacy takes another leap – Lowen’s birthday gives Jeremy a cause to celebrate and seduce her. As Lowen finds her fantasies of being with Jeremy realized, things crash to a halt when Lowen spots Verity at the top of the stairs. Rushing to her bedroom they again find Verity in bed. Jeremy assures Lowen she must be wrong, and suffering from guilt.
Verity’s next chapter details the pregnancy with Crew, and recounts Chastain’s death at a friend’s sleepover. Verity’s premonition that Harper would kill Chastain seems confirmed as Harper was present. The death drives up the tension between Jeremy and Verity over Harper as Verity revels in tormenting her surviving daughter over the accident.
Raging now over Verity’s behavior, Lowen finds herself emboldened to confront Verity in the present. Finding the author alone in her wheelchair that evening in the living room, Lowen tells Verity exactly what she thinks of her in unflinching detail. Verity responds by urinating. As Jeremy cleans her up and puts her to bed, Lowen enjoys dinner with Crew and puts him to bed. Afterwards, she has sex with Jeremy. At some point during their sex, they’re locked in from the outside.
Shortly after, Lowen reads the penultimate chapter of Verity’s autobiography about Harper’s death. Verity schemed to stage an accident in which she could rescue Crew while letting Harper drown in the lake. The plan to use a canoe outing seemed foolproof. But Jeremy doesn’t believe that this latest accident wasn’t intentional.
Lowen rushes to Jeremy again for comfort after reading, and things heat up once again as they have unprotected sex while Verity and her nurse are out for the day.
Later on, thinking that only she understands the mental damage inflicted on Crew, Lowen asks him directly about Harper’s death, and whether his mother is faking her condition. The conversation ends when Crew bites down a knife instead of answering, cutting his lip open. Jeremy rushes him to the hospital. Alone, Lowen devours the final chapter of the manuscript, in which Jeremy confronts Verity about his suspicions over Harper’s death, and Verity confesses she’s afraid he’ll report her to the police. If she’s lost Jeremy, she asserts, she’ll just drive her car into a tree.
The third section of a mystery or thriller has to quicken the pace of the plot and send it hurtling toward the final reveal. Here, the acceleration happens on two fronts: in Verity’s autobiography and Lowen’s experience. The effect is like a spiral, as the events of the manuscript dial the pace of Lowen’s story.
Lowen’s choice to get pregnant based on Verity’s account of Jeremy as a father cements her replacement of Verity as writer, wife and mother. The dark foreshadowing of the car accident that put Verity in a vegetative state is also a pivotal final clue. That Jeremy and Lowen find themselves once again covered in blood, from Crew’s lip, echoes the shock opening of the novel. With all the puzzle pieces in place, the final chapters are set up for a reveal of epic proportions.
One reveal, then another
The final crisis begins when Lowen catches Verity crawling out of bed on the same video they’d used to monitor the twins. Confronting Jeremy, he explodes at Lowen and her delusions of Verity’s faking. He asks her to leave. Desperate to convince him, she hands him Verity’s manuscript. Once he’s read it, they both rush in to confront Verity.
Eventually, Verity reacts and tries to explain. She’s faking because she’s terrified of what Jeremy will do to her, since he thinks she murdered Harper. Fulfilling this prophecy, Jeremy attacks Verity in her bed, and begins strangling her. Afraid for their future together, Lowen suggests they make Verity’s death look like an accident just as Verity had tried to murder Harper by smothering her in the night.
Making it look like Verity had choked on her own vomit, they are successful in covering it up.
The book closes with Jeremy and Lowen now partnered, heavily pregnant, and moving away from Vermont. When selling the home, Lowen takes a final look around Verity’s room. Remembering where she’d seen the knife on the floor, she discovers a secret cache under the floorboards – and a letter to Jeremy hidden within.
In this letter she explains that when he found her manuscript shortly after Harper’s death, he’d misunderstood it completely. It was a writing exercise imagining things from a villain’s point of view — which she used to process her grief. None of it was real, but Jeremy had believed it, and could use it to go to the police.
Instead, he staged the car wreck in an attempt to murder his wife. Verity then faked her condition, hoping to locate the manuscript evidence and flee with Crew.
Having murdered Verity with Jeremy, Lowen swallows the letter, along with the knowledge that Jeremy planted the manuscript, and had tried to murder Verity once before.
The double reveal leaves the story with more questions than answers. Since the novel was released in 2018 the division over who, and what, to believe about the events of the story quickly became “Team Manuscript” and “Team Letter” based on which account readers felt was more trustworthy. While the dark mirroring of the plot results in Lowen taking over Verity’s life and family, she’s been manipulated by a murderer. Even more, she’s become one, too.
When struggling writer Lowen Ashleigh is asked to take over for a famous Verity Crawford, she ends up taking over her career, husband and family. Manipulated by Verity’s manuscript and husband, Jeremy, Lowen helps murder the writer she has been paid to replace, inspired by Verity’s own fictional account of her attempted murder of her daughter.
Motivated by a public outcry over the ambiguity of the ending, a recent new edition of the book published a bonus chapter detailing new events six months later.
Lowen is now a mother to daughter Nova, and the family has settled far away from Vermont to avoid suspicion. Still, a chance meeting with one of Verity’s old friends threatens their new family. Jeremy decides to murder this woman, too. With more blood on their hands, Lowen allows her mental competition with Verity, and obsession with Jeremy, to blind her yet again. When Crew shows no remorse for putting his infant sister in danger, the ongoing effects of the family’s chronic tragedies continue.
“Verity” by Colleen Hoover is a gripping psychological thriller that captivates readers with its suspenseful plot and unexpected twists. Hoover, known for her romance novels, ventures into a different genre with this book and delivers a compelling and chilling story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
The book is divided into two parts:
- Part One: Lowen follows Lowen as she tries to finish Verity’s book and uncover the truth about her.
- Part Two: Verity tells the story of Verity’s life from her own perspective.
One of the book’s notable strengths is its ability to create an atmosphere of suspense and tension from the very beginning. Hoover skillfully builds the narrative through alternating perspectives and cleverly timed revelations, keeping readers guessing and engrossed in the unfolding mystery. The pacing is well executed, with each chapter raising new questions and intensifying the sense of unease.
The characters in “Verity” are complex and multi-dimensional, adding depth to the story. The author explores their motivations, secrets, and vulnerabilities, making them relatable and engaging. The protagonist, Verity, is particularly intriguing with her enigmatic nature and questionable actions. The interactions and dynamics between the characters are well-developed, adding layers of intrigue and unpredictability to the narrative.
Hoover’s writing style is engaging and descriptive, creating vivid imagery that enhances the eerie atmosphere of the story. The author’s attention to detail and ability to evoke strong emotions contribute to the overall impact of the book. The psychological aspects of the thriller are explored with depth and sensitivity, keeping readers invested in the characters’ struggles and the unraveling of the mystery.
The twists and turns in “Verity” are its strongest aspect. Hoover masterfully constructs a complex web of secrets and revelations, constantly challenging readers’ assumptions and expectations. The unexpected plot twists add an element of surprise and keep readers guessing until the very end. The book’s ability to consistently deliver shocking moments and keep readers hooked is a testament to the author’s storytelling prowess.
One potential limitation of the book is that it contains dark and disturbing themes that may not be suitable for all readers. The story explores intense psychological and emotional situations that some readers may find unsettling. It is important for potential readers to be aware of the book’s content and consider their comfort level with such themes before diving into the story.
Here are some of the things that I liked about the book:
- The plot is fast-paced and suspenseful.
- The characters are complex and well-developed.
- The twists are unexpected and shocking.
- The writing is sharp and witty.
Here are some of the things that I didn’t like about the book:
- The book can be graphic and disturbing at times.
- Some of the twists are a bit too far-fetched.
- The book could have been edited more tightly.
Overall, I thought Verity was a well-written and suspenseful novel. It is a perfect book for fans of psychological thrillers and domestic suspense. However, it is important to note that the book is graphic and disturbing at times.
Here are some additional thoughts on the book:
- I appreciate that Hoover did not shy away from the dark and disturbing aspects of Verity’s story. She showed how even the most seemingly perfect people can have dark secrets.
- I also appreciate that Hoover did not give away all the twists in the book. There were a few moments where I was genuinely surprised by what happened.
- However, I do think that some of the twists were a bit too far-fetched. For example, I didn’t really believe that Verity could have orchestrated everything that happened in the book.
- Overall, I thought Verity was a good book. It was suspenseful and well-written, but it was also graphic and disturbing at times. I would recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers, but I would caution them that it is not for the faint of heart.
In conclusion, “Verity” is a gripping psychological thriller that showcases Colleen Hoover’s versatility as an author. With its suspenseful plot, well-developed characters, and bone-chilling twists, the book offers a thrilling reading experience that will keep fans of the genre thoroughly engaged. While it delves into dark themes, it is a testament to Hoover’s storytelling skills and ability to create an immersive and suspenseful narrative.