Tag Archives: Simon Lelic

The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic

the liar's room

I loved Simon Lelic’s previous novel, The House, and I was thrilled to receive a copy of his new novel, The Liar’s Room, ahead of publication.

ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT…

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago, she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life.  It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office.  She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl.  A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong.

She doesn’t know him.

BUT HE KNOWS HER.

AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER…

The novel opens with Susanna greeting Adam for the first time as he arrives for his initial appointment with her, and from the beginning she feels that there’s something that isn’t quite right about the situation.  Nothing she can put her finger on, just a niggling feeling that she can’t shake, although she tries to ignore it and remain professional with her new client.  It doesn’t take long for both Susanna and the reader to realise that her instincts were spot on (oh the benefit of hindsight) as Adam quickly reveals his intentions.  His motive takes a little longer to become apparent, however, and I thought that this was an excellent set up to allow the story to gradually unfold – it had me hooked from the very beginning.

There are three elements to The Liar’s Room, which alternates between the present-day situation in Susanna’s office, flashbacks to her former life, and the dairy of her daughter, Emily.  The reader knows early on (plus it’s in the blurb 😉) that Susanna has run away from something in her former life – something that must have been quite horrific to make her leave everything behind and to reinvent herself under a new identity.  I loved the slow reveal of what had gone on before, and this was my favourite part of the novel.  Of course, it takes a little while for everything to be revealed, and it was with a sense of impending doom that I rushed through to understand what had happened, and how it was connected to Emily, Adam, and the situation unfolding in Susanna’s office.

Set largely in a single room, The Liar’s Room carries a strong dose of claustrophobia, and I couldn’t help but share Susanna’s discomfort as the meeting with Adam continued, and as it becomes gradually clearer as to why he’s there.  It’s obvious that he knows about her past, but why he is interested, and why he has gone to such lengths to arrange a meeting isn’t immediately obvious, and I didn’t make the connection until it was revealed.

The Liar’s Room is a quick and enjoyable read, and one that I recommend to fans of psychological thrillers.  Lelic tells a great story, and if I didn’t love this quite as much as I did The House, I think it’s only because his last novel was so absolutely brilliant that it was always going to be a difficult act to follow.

The Liar’s Room is available now as an eBook (£0.99 on Amazon at the time of writing this review!), and will be published in paperback on 9 August.  Many thanks to Hannah Ludbrook and the publisher, Penguin, for the early review copy.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Advertisements

The House by Simon Lelic

the house

I would normally write my own synopsis as part of a review, but I’m struggling to do this one justice without giving anything away, so I’ve decided to “borrow” the following from Amazon:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

The House is told from the alternating perspectives of Jack and Syd, and takes the form of a diary of sorts in which they both write their accounts of how they came to live in the house and what they’ve been through since then.  I found this to be an interesting and successful narrative device – the reader doesn’t know, at first, who they are writing for or why, and it was an interesting twist when their reasons for committing everything to paper become clearer.  Additionally, it soon becomes apparent that they are both hiding things from each other, yet both insist that the other should trust them.  This made me question the strength of their relationship which at the outset seemed strong, but as the story progressed, I couldn’t help but wonder as the cracks started to appear.

This was enhanced by Jack and Syd coming across as being the very definition of “opposites attract”.  Their differences are initially highlighted through their respective writing styles and the language they use, although the reader soon learns that it goes deeper than that.  Syd is something of a wild child, at least partly due to her traumatic childhood, whilst Jack comes across as being seems calm and sensible, the sort of person you might describe as being “as steady as a rock”.  He’s the practical one, the one who will deliberate over something whilst Syd seems more impulsive and flighty.  Whilst I felt sympathy for Syd and what she had been through, I struggled to engage with her at first and much preferred Jack’s perspective of events, although this did change as the novel progressed.  Whatever their differences, I did find them both to be extremely interesting characters.

When I requested The House from Netgalley, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – there was something about the description / title / cover that hinted, to me at least, at something vaguely supernatural or horror-related, although this proved to be incorrect.  It’s a clever psychological thriller, and whilst there are some creepy moments, they aren’t of the paranormal variety.  I have to admit that I did have a suspicion as to the twist, although it wasn’t confirmed until the end of the story and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the novel at all.  I think that this is a very clever tale which offers something a little different to the reader.

I absolutely loved The House, and halfway through I was checking Amazon to see what else Lelic has written (I’m particularly intrigued by The Facility) and I will definitely be picking up his other novels.

The House will be published by Penguin on 17 August as an eBook and on 2 November in paperback.  Many thanks to the publisher for approving my request on Netgalley.

Rating: ★★★★★