Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Liar's Child

The Liar's Child by Carla Buckley
Penguin Random House: 3/12/19
eBook review copy; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9781101887127 

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 is going 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 own plans.

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 clear later.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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