The Liar's Child by Carla Buckley
Penguin Random House:
eBook review copy; 288 pages
The Liar's Child by Carla Buckley is a highly recommended
novel of suspense.
Set mainly at the dilapidated Paradise apartment complex on North
Carolina’s Outer Banks, The Liar's Child follows a handful
of characters: Whit, Sara, Hank, and Cassie. Sara Lennox is
in the witness protection program, awaiting her testimony in an
upcoming trial. Her FBI handlers have set her up in an apartment
at the Paradise and she's got a cleaning job. Sara has noticed the
children who live next door, rebellious twelve-year-old Cassie and
needy five-year-old Boon, and the social worker who has been by
asking her what she knows about the family. Boon is taken by Sara
and finds her fascinating. Sara knows there is more going on after their father, Whit tells her about
his wife leaving them.
When a hurricane approaches, Sara is supposed to be evacuated by her
handlers, but she has other, secret plans put into place that she
to carry out now. As she is leaving the Paradise, she looks up to
see Cassie and Boon, out on their deck, apparently left alone by Whit.
She loads them into her car at the last minute to get them off the
island to somewhere safe too. Now Sara has the two children under her
care and needs to find some place to leave them so she can carry out her
Buckley uses an omniscient narrator to tell the story of these
damaged individuals - and they are all very damaged, hurting, troubled,
and have secrets. All of the characters, are flawed and well-drawn and
their misdeeds and troubles are slowly revealed, leaked out bit by bit,
as the story unfolds. They all keep things to themselves, even Cassie and Boon.
It is nice to see that Cassie and Boon are portrayed as characters
representative of their ages. Sara is a complex woman, with a life of
secrets, and she is clearly unfamiliar with children. Whit is stressed
out and doing the best he can. Hank's role in this drama won't be known
until much later in the narrative.
In this well-written novel, the approaching hurricane adds an element
of danger and increases the sense of urgency, but the story is found in
the characters and their interactions. While there are surprising
twists, the real plot is in the interaction of these people and the role
of fate in their actions. Pay attention to the brief descriptions of
objects found randomly between chapters as their importance will become
My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.