Pros: Fascinating plot weaving
Cons: Main character is definitely not sympathetic
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sabine Durrant’s Lie With Me tells the story of Paul, a selfish and self-centered novelist who’s still riding off of the reputation he gained years ago. Whether it’s wooing young paramours, house-sitting for friends and claiming their posh pad as his own, claiming to be doing well while having to move back in with his mother, etc., he can’t seem to keep from lying about even the littlest things. He sees himself as a basically honest person of course, it’s just that “[t]he selfish response to events was so much more straightforward than the morally correct.”
He runs into an old friend, Andrew, whose name he can barely remember, and, desperate to find a new place to live that didn’t mean living with his mother, he falls in with Andrew and Andrew’s friends. In particular he sets his sights on Alice, who’s older than his usual type but who’s a single mother living well. He even convinces her to take him to Pyros in Greece with the rest of the group on an annual vacation. He went there once a long time ago–in fact, that’s where he met Andrew–but he remembers little of the drunken trip.
If you think this is a setup ripe for plot twists and mysteries, you’re right. There’s also a young woman who’s been missing for years, the fact that Paul is a privacy-violating klepto, his Alice’s son may be a rapist, and what really did happen all those years ago, anyway?
There aren’t many sympathetic characters in this one. Tina, Andrew’s wife, is the closest thing there is to a sympathetic character. Andrew seems to be constantly a bit too close to Alice, Alice runs alternately cold/warm and seems to be up to something with Andrew, and Paul is a lying, skeevy guy who’s just as happy to ogle his girlfriend’s teenage daughter as his girlfriend. Paul is very well-drawn, though; it’s easy to buy him as this liar who nonetheless sees himself as a basically honest and straightforward person. While he starts to fall for Alice despite himself, it doesn’t make him much more likable as he still does everything based on what it’ll get for him. He constantly calculates and maneuvers.
This wasn’t my favorite book (I prefer to have an at least semi-sympathetic character to enjoy), but I have to admire the planning and calculation of it.
NOTE: This book was provided free for review by publisher