The Lying Game is a compelling thriller full of suspense and clever complicity to keep you guessing who the killer is and how the main suspect, although innocent, navigates her own guilty situation. Neve Connolly is a wife in her forties and mother with three children. The last number of years have been a strain with various family problems and a depressed husband. When events forged the prospect for Neve to embark on an affair with her new boss Saul Stevenson, she took the step and sought some pleasure for herself. An affair that was exhilarating, passionate and mindless was played out mainly in his apartment in the city, for which she held a key. After having spent an evening together, Saul texts Neve early the next morning asking for one more moment together before he goes off on a business trip.
In the short time, from the phone call until Neve arrives at the apartment, Saul has been murdered, and as she looks at the dead body with the murder weapon beside him, she realises there are traces of her all over the flat. The dilemma is tantalisingly balanced – should she report the murder to the police and explain her involvement with Saul and deal with all the family repercussions that will inevitably flow. Or clean the flat to remove all traces of her and pretend she was never there or involved with him. What had started as an affair had become death and she was at the centre of it, along with an unknown killer, who may or may not know her involvement with Saul.
The plot is fabulously drawn with an intricately woven web of lies that spiral into deeper and deeper complexity that excels in this thriller. The mental rollercoaster of Neve, trying to remember what she had said previously, how she should respond to questions from her colleagues, friends and family, how she should act, and how to protect herself when information could be validated from other sources.
“She had never understood how intricate and delicate the act of communication was, how many clues and contexts there were.”
Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching leads the investigation and possesses that searching stare that implies he knows when you’re lying. The engagement with DCI Hitching is one of the clever and enthralling aspects of the story, how he doesn’t forget information and asks those seemingly guiltless questions that wrong foot a liar. It was fascinating to observe the delicate interplay between Neve and him, how she tried to prepare her reactions and responses that don’t look fabricated.
Meanwhile, there is still the real killer out there who may be getting away with murder (literally) if Neve continues to be the main suspect and if the killer can add more compelling evidence to her lies and cover-ups, then they are clear. I really appreciated that Neve never lost focus on the real potential of going to prison and kept her guard up, even though it wasn’t a perfect story she was telling, but the evidence was what the police really needed. The drama circulating the evidence was very well plotted and the tension between Neve and the police, and Neve and the killer were excellent.
While the writing has a wonderful descriptive quality it could have been cut down quite a bit to ensure a tighter momentum, as I was regularly tempted to start rushing through particular sections to keep the pace high. My only complaint!
I loved the concept of this novel and the authors really brought out all the worries, deceit and panic that this plot provided. I highly recommend this book and I’d like to thank Simon and Schuster UK and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.