Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Good Liar

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle
HarperCollins: 2/2/16
eBook review copy; 352 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780062407498

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle is a highly recommended novel of suspense, secrets, and betrayals.

Roy Courtnay has met his latest target through a dating website and is having lunch with Betty McLeish, a wealthy widow. As the novel unfolds it becomes unmistakable that Roy, a lifelong confidence man now in his eighties, has chosen Betty as his latest and last target and plans to try and swindle or deceive her in some way. Quickly he inserts himself into Betty's life and moves in with her.

Roy's intentions are not good. This is distinctly evident because most of the novel deals with Roy's life. Searle alternates chapters from the present day with Roy and Betty to Roy's past, starting with the more recent past and going back in time. Roy's character, or lack thereof, is clearly portrayed over time. He is a con artist, but he is also a sociopath. The lies he has told are enumerated, his manipulation of others is revealed, his ill-intentions over the years are uncovered, and the scams he has pulled over the years are disclosed.

But Betty, when talking to Stephen, her grandson, makes remarks that leave subtle hints of an agenda of her own. It is not until Roy's story goes back far enough that Betty's hidden agenda is disclosed.

There is suspense in the present day story with Roy and Betty, but most of the novel is a character study of Roy while it divulges his past sins and schemes. The structure of The Good Liar, telling Roy's life story while moving back in time, is clever and interesting, but it started to drag-out too long for me and made the pace feel too slow. For me, the chapters dealing with Roy's past schemes could have been abbreviated and I would still have the information I needed about his character.

I found the current day situation between Roy and Betty much more intriguing than the numerous cons in Roy's past. However, the ending is well worth the wait and the final revelations are unexpected. Betty is the far more interesting character, but we learn so little about her until the end.

The writing is quite good in this debut novel. Fans of historical fiction may also enjoy this novel of suspense because of the flashbacks in time in Roy's life. 

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher and TLC for review purposes.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.