I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
Published by Mulholland Books on January 11th, 2018
Barnes & Noble
It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to a former acquaintance we can't quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you're having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday - swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of...
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you're trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you - by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it's the lies that cause the real damage...
... well, by then, it could just be too late.
Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year
Shortlisted for the British Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year
This book was just… frustrating. Infuriating. Sloooow.
Paul, our narrator, was a common, privileged, freeloading, middle-aged white guy who felt that the world owed him everything just for existing. Upon our first meeting, he goes into a bookshop with the express purpose of hitting on the early-twenties girl working at the counter. When she shows exactly zero interest in him, turning away after his first clumsy attempt at flirting, he thinks “Perhaps she was a little too fresh out of school, not quite my audience. Even so. How dare she. Fuck.”
We hear a few pages later that he met a young grad student named Kate at a bar who was trying to break into journalism. Paul, who has published one book to middling acclaim, writes his contact details on her palm, so she can reach him if she needs his advice. Which… sure. The next night he gets a call from a number he doesn’t recognize on his phone, and assumes it’s her. “As I picked up, I was already imagining the meeting (“my place probably easiest”), her breathless deference, the bottle of wine, the gratitude, the tumble into bed.” For the record – it wasn’t her. She never reached out because why the fuck would she?
And who can forget this gem: “Her face was wrinkled, and overtanned, but there was a looseness in her movements, in the way she stood with her legs apart, that suggested she’d be good in bed.” Seriously – Paul was just gross all around. Not a single redeeming quality or anything that made him interesting or worth spending this much time with.
Paul becomes reacquainted with someone he went to college with, Andrew, and ends up sucked into Andrew’s group of friends, eventually dating one of them, Alice. His relationship with Alice, with the entire group, really, is just one lie after another. Paul lies about where he lives (he’s just been evicted from his current place and is going to have to move back in with his mother), about his work (he tells them there’s currently a bidding war for his latest novel, when in fact, he hasn’t written anything), his financial situation (there is no financial situation), just anything he can possibly lie about. He thinks they admire him, and he sees their admiration as his due. His due for what? As I mentioned, he exists as a middle-aged white man.
I keep waiting for his lies to come out, for the rest of the group to call him out, but they never really do. Well, at the end, everything comes out, but it’s wrapped up in one of those “twists” that’s become so commonplace these days that’s extremely unsatisfying and so clearly telegraphed that you’re just relieved when it finally comes out.
The entire book is wrapped up in the last 10%. The first 90% is just Paul integrating himself into this group and lying about everything in order to make himself seem even a little appealing. We end up in Greece for a good portion of the book, because Alice is obsessed with finding Jasmine, a young girl who went missing the last time she was in Greece. She didn’t know Jasmine, the girl wasn’t family or friend or any other type of acquaintance, but Alice just couldn’t let it go. Jasmine disappeared 10 years ago, and Alice is still running a website, printing flyers, paying artists to do renderings of what she’d look like now, and running back to Greece every time there’s a possible lead. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but it got our group to Greece.
The writing was overdone, the plot tired, and frankly, I just don’t care about the plight of the poor, displaced, middle-aged white man.