Monday 6 August 2018

The Liar's Room by Simon Lelic

From the title you automatically know that everything you read is to be taken with a pinch of salt, after all everything has the potential to be a lie between these pages.  Maybe it is that fact alone that sets you in to the right frame of mind to forensically examine every single interchange, every casual observation as you are reading.  I certainly felt my brain cells being given a good workout throughout the book.

We start off with Susanna who has become a counsellor after some trauma in her past - initially we aren't entirely sure what it is except that it revolves somehow around her family life.  We know she is estranged from her husband and lives with their, now teenage, daughter Emily and that there was a son, Jacob.  We also know that she has some big secret, something that she psychologically tortures herself with every day.  Today she has 2 new patients at her counselling practice, maybe it will be a good day?

Then we meet Adam, new patient number one.  Adam is a bit of an enigma at first and we struggle to understand what he is doing at Susanna's offices at all, he isn't exactly forthcoming in his reasons.  As he begins to tell Susanna about his reasons for being there even she suspects that all is not what seems and that he is spinning her a line.  Adam soon shows his hand, a hand wrapped around a knife blade, as he confesses he has her teenage daughter and that Susanna better answer his questions "or else..."

The beauty of this tale is not really in the characters, it is in the atmosphere and the plotting.  Really we only have Adam and Susanna for the majority of the book and it is clear that neither of them can be trusted in what they say.  Mr Lelic knows how to create tension on the page, tension so think that you can feel your breath catching in your throat and the sweat leaping in to your palms.  The plotting is so well constructed that just when you have formulated a theory some tiny, insignificant fact is revealed that causes you to curse and stomp moodily back to your mental drawing board.

The claustrophobia of the meeting between Susanna and Adam is occassionally lightened by snippets from Emily's diary, brief forays in to Ruth's (the dentist that Susanna shares the building with and who is her best (although really only) friend) view of what is happening from the outside.  There are also the off flashback to life with Jacob and Neil and what exactly happened to Jacob.  In some ways these dissipate the tension but you are always aware of that lurking menace around the corner - this is particularly the case with the sections dealing with Jacob and the build up of little incidents that led to "the thing".

This is a real page turner of a book and I found myself becoming completely absorbed in the plot.  To be honest I couldn't really tell you much about the characters as people or how they develop on the page.  The plot is the characater and the character is the plot, so to describe one is to spoil the other.  Hard, hard book to review without spoilers and as there are so many misdirects thanks to the lies our 2 protagonists tell it is very important not to spoil the plot.

A terrifically engaging read that you need to clear your schedule to read because it will suck hours from you as you keep turning the pages just to find out how your latest theory stacks up - it won't, although I did get a plot point fairly early on it was just a lucky guess.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Lego Tony Stark's Sakaarian Iron Man 76194

 I know nothing about the "What If" TV show but what I do know is that I absolutely LOVE Mechs and Lego always manage to put somet...