Tuesday, 10 January 2017

"Lies" T M Logan

Lies

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? 

A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge.

When Joe Lynch sees his wife enter an underground car park in the middle of the day, he's intrigued enough to follow her down.

And when he sees her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he naturally goes to her defence - and doesn't for a minute believe the accusations Ben makes against her.

It's pure misfortune that, just as the clash becomes violent and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe's son has an asthma attack, and Joe has to take him to safety


This is a debut novel from Bonnier Zaffre, a publisher which I have come to rely on for great first novels from new, fresh voices. I chased this book down on NetGalley as I was very keen to read it and I'm delighted that once more, Bonnier Zaffre did not disappoint! Billed as a "gripping, new, psychological thriller" it is exactly that and although this descriptor follows many titles at the moment, I think it is deservedly placed alongside "Lies".

If you want to read a book about that moment when you make a decision - not a big decision, not an agonisingly complicated decision, but more of a snap decision - a whim to go left rather than right, leave work early, to surprise an old friend or your partner, then this is the book for you. If you want to read a book about how that snap decision actually has such a profound impact on your life that things are never the same again, then this is the book for you. If you want to read a book all about the 'What if' question that we all love to ask ourselves when we are wandering along in our daily routine, this this is the book for you! As our protagonist Joe says:

"I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn't seen her car that day. If the light had been green instead of red. If my son had been dozing or daydreaming, or looking the other way........"

This novel is also about secrets and lies. If Joe hadn't decided to follow his wife's car that day would things have carried on as normal? Can secrets be hidden forever? Can lies be spun forever? Or will they always be discovered - will fate intervene at some point?

Why did Joe follow his wife's car that day? Was it a snap decision, a whim or was it fate? Whatever it was, Joe had "made a spur of the moment decision that would change my life," and whether it was fate or not doesn't slow down the complicated web of mystery, revenge and duplicity he finds himself unwittingly caught up in.

I really liked Joe. The story is told from his point of view and I found I immediately felt very at ease with his voice. I thought he was very convincing, authentic and likeable. His relationship with his son shows how gentle, patient, humorous and thoughtful he is as well as revealing his commitment to his family. Although accused of being average, I liked the fact he was deliberately ordinary and flawed. In fact, doesn't that make the story even more relatable and engaging?

I think it is also unusual to read a psychological thriller that is written from a male point of view and where it is the man who is the character we align ourselves with and who seems to be the caught up in the emotional turmoil of the situation rather than the manipulator, the planner or the dastardly villain. I liked that.

At times Joe's voice is kept light, for example when he tries to talk to high flying, ultra successful Ben at the start of the novel Joe reflects his sense of inferiority and captures the difference between men and women's interactions with his causal reference to "Awkward Bloke Conversations". But then at other times it is very honest and open.

"And that was when everything I knew started to fall apart."

I also thought the dialogue was really well written. I forgot I was reading a book I was so immersed in the moment and the action. There are several passages which are just pure dialogue but it is effective. It keeps the story moving forward as well as developing characters and showing the relationships between them.

The theme of lies is obviously central to the book but there are some interesting, thought provoking questions raised by Joe as he struggles to unknot the lies from the truth.

A lie. Why did she lie? Why do people usually lie?

Mel, his wife, lies to him. Little white lies, bigger lies to cover her tracks, a few more lies not to hurt Joe or to keep things more simple, lies to protect her family, huge whopping lies that actually destroy everything they thought they knew about each other. And then, Joe muses while looking after William, what about the "lies we tell our children?" Can lying ever be good? Can it ever help us? We lie to protect ourselves, our families, each other - surely that kind of lying is ok? Everyone lies, but as the cover says, what happens when all of these lies mean that actually your whole life has been built on them?

Well, for the answer to that, you'll have to read the book to find out......!

This is a contemporary novel and social media plays a large role in the way it helps to compound the lies, create more lies and then perpetuate the lies as they circle around and around the contact list and beyond, going viral in a way that everyone fears and is almost powerless to control. I'm enjoying how social media is infiltrating novels at the moment - it really does help create tension and suspense and really does put the protagonists in very tricky, isolating and excitingly compromising situations.

"Having that many notifications in one go was new to me. I was not a prolific user of Facebook in any case - my life's not even half interesting enough, I'd once told Mel, which she'd said was missing the point of social media entirely."

"They had seem my post, they knew where I'd been. It was like suddenly realising you lived in a goldfish bowl."

I thought the language Logan used to talk about social media was interesting too. I hadn't fully appreciated how menacing the terms we use innocently to talk about our behaviour on things like Facebook actually was:

"Facebook's certainly good for stalking too."

"'Fraped?' 'Facebook raped.'"

And how dependent we are on these gadgets that rule our lives, control our lives and yet can equally destroy our lives. Again, this is well captured by Logan:

"my car was gone. My laptop, iPad and desktop PC were gone. My mobile phone was gone. They might as well have sent me back in time to 1900."

There are many other themes in the story; entrapment, achievement, competition, jealousy, status, friendship, marriage and perception but ultimately this is a very well told story, with strong characters  and an intriguing premise. I know we are not supposed to say it but there is a twist, and no, I didn't see it coming!

Logan does a perfect job of introducing us to likeable characters with enough humour and honest observations to make it engaging and realistic but then cranks up the suspense, tension, complications, revelations and twists to create a gripping, dramatic and exciting ending. This is a well observed novel, relevant to today and just a great read. It really does make you think about 'What if' and how easily life can suddenly go into free fall.

"Lies" will leave you wondering about what is real, what and who can you really trust, should you be sharing a "download of your life" on social media and whether you should take that detour tonight on the way home.

I wouldn't if I were you!

If you enjoyed Angela Clarke's "Follow Me" and "Watch Me", Alex Caan's "Cut to the Bone" and Helen Fitzgerald's "Viral", you will enjoy this book.

"Lies" by TM Logan is published by Bonnier Zaffre on 17th January 2017 (ebook) and will be out in paperback 4th May 2017.

For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

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