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Book review: Every Smile You Fake by Dorothy Koomson

"Profiler and therapist Kez Lanyon is shocked when she finds a baby on the backseat of her car, with an unsigned note asking her to take care of him.

“Kez has a pretty good idea who the mother is – Brandee, a popular social media star with a troubled background, who once lived in Kez's house.”

This is the opener to Dorothy Koomson’s latest book - ‘Every Smile You Fake’, which is published by Headline and comes out on 15 February 2024.

Dorothy Koomson. Image copyright: Naill McDiarmid
Dorothy Koomson. Image copyright: Naill McDiarmid

British-Ghanaian author Dorothy is the UK’s best-selling Black author of adult fiction, who has sold over 2.5 million copies in the UK alone. Her books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

As part of our Read It. Read It series, our Bookplate host Rhoda Korley -Owu gives us her views after reading a review copy of this book.

Summary of the book

Set in the UK, we are introduced to Kezuma Lanyon (Kez) at Smithdowne Community Centre at a book show. As a member of the panel, she comes to the rescue of author friend of a crime fiction when one man in the audience decides to trash the author’s book and all her efforts for that matter in minutes. Kez puts him in his place with her profiling expertise.

Kez is a psychotherapist and profiler mostly for companies and organisations and is married to Jeb Quarshie (originally from Ghana). They met for the first time years ago at a party after a steamy lovemaking session.

'Thank you', Dorothy for giving me Nancy Drew vibes

Brandee, who is now like a daughter to Kez, is missing and Kez is ready to go all lengths to find her. But her journey to becoming a superhero almost costs Kez her marriage.

Also adding more intrigue to this story is a man with narcissistic tendencies, who manages to brainwash Kez's stepson, which sets off a series of events that adds to the tension in this story.

What I liked

The book delves into current social media trends and its effect on our daily lives. The investigations, the trauma and betrayals portray how things do not go as we expect when we are only trying to mind our business.

I believe this is what gives meaning to the book's title – 'Every Smile You Fake'. The book keeps you engaged. 'Thank you' Dorothy for giving me Nancy Drew vibes.

What I found challenging

I felt that the author did not hold back at the sex scenes which was interesting considering the book was focussed on a family and the youth in social media.

What I’d like to ask the author if you could

I would like to ask Dorothy about what lengths she had to go to to write authentically about the life of an agent.

For example what is involved in hiring forensics experts or dealing with the police or is research alone enough? I read in Wikipedia that Dorothy has two degrees - one in psychology and journalism which might explain why she writes so expertly about these fields.

I love me a book that gives insight into the lives of people in other professions. I also liked how these characters navigate around the good and the bad. For example, how Kez always takes her profession seriously even when it almost ruins her family and what she had worked so hard for.

And another thing...

The gap between Kez's personal life and work was blurred as we saw in the nine parts of the novel and the extent to which people would go to get what they want is unbelievable.

What is funny enough is these people excel well in their various organisations like one of the characters (I don't want to spoil it) that I would describe as a true psychopath. This character stops at nothing to get what he wants even if it involves killing people.

What's next

If you’d like to read this book, find out more at

If you've read this book, tell us what you thought in the comments or at

We've also reviewed another of Dorothy's books: 'My Other Husband', which you can listen to here.

Read It. Read It! is an AKADi Magazine segment aimed at book lovers. Our goal is to get you reading more books by Ghanaian authors, poets, illustrators or books about Ghana.

Watch out for our next review, until next time on Read It. Read It!, we invite you to seek out books by Ghanaian authors, poets, illustrators or books about Ghana; we encourage you to share your thoughts and hopefully, instead of us urging you to Read It. You’ll be telling us you’ve Read It!

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