Liar's Candle by August Thomas
eBook review copy; 320 pages
Liar's Candle by August Thomas is a highly recommended thriller.
Kessler is a 21 year-old intern at the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey,
when, during a 4th of July celebration at the embassy, a bomb explodes
killing 256 of Penny’s friends and colleagues. Penny is in the hospital,
sedated, and doesn't realize that a picture of her has gone global in
the media and she is the face that represents the international
incident. Showing up at her bedside in the hospital, demanding that the
doctor give her something to make her regain consciousness is Frank
Lerman, a senior State Department official who is assisted by Connor
boss, Brenda Pelecchia, tries to stop him to no avail.
Penny is briefly questioned about her relationship with Zachary Robson,
an embassy employee who disappeared after the explosion, but then the
Turkish Prime Minister arrives and takes her to the presidential palace
as an "invited" guest/prisoner of Melek Palamut, daughter of the
president. She is being questioned about Zach and everyone assumes she
has some information that they all want. Penny miraculously manages to
escape from the Presidential Palace and manages to run into Connor, who
has been sent to retrieve her. Soon it becomes clear that there is a
whole lot more going on than either Penny or Connor realize. Penny is
believed to have crucial information everyone wants and someone wants
them both dead. Penny has become the woman who knew too much, but what
does Penny know?
Liar's Candle is a fast-paced thriller written with a nod to
sheer escapism. Thomas, who was a Fulbright scholar in Turkey, captures
life in Turkey and the local atmosphere, with an eye for detail, quite
well. Do Penny's many astounding escapes and strategic feats stretch
credulity? Sure they do. Do you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy the
novel. Yup. Is it worth it to get to the end? It certainly is worth
accepting everything this young, naive, untrained 21 year-old manages to
accomplish in order to enjoy the story. The novel held my attention
throughout, even when I was surreptitiously rolling my eyes over some
spectacular exploit Penny pulled off. The bad guys are bad, the good
guys good. Was I entertained? I certainly was and the rapid pace helped
keep me reading.
My review copy was courtesy of Scribner via Netgalley.