Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Liar's Candle

Liar's Candle by August Thomas
Scribner: 4/17/18
eBook review copy; 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9781501172847

Liar's Candle by August Thomas is a highly recommended thriller.

Penny 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 Beauregard. Her 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.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner
via Netgalley.

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