I REALLY enjoyed this. It has much more depth, deeper themes and more solid writing than the typical commercial thriller. And the twist towards the end made me go back and reread the beginning. It’s always fun when a book forces me to do that!!
When a woman conceals her sister’s death to claim their joint inheritance, her deception exposes a web of dangerous secrets in this addictive new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.
Robin Voigt is dead. If Leslie had arrived at her sister’s cramped Las Vegas apartment just hours earlier, this would have been their first reunion in a decade. In the years since Robin ran away from home as a teenager, Leslie has stayed in New Mexico, taking care of their dying father even as she began building a family of her own. But when their father passed away, Leslie received a rude awakening: She and Robin would receive the inheritance he left them together—or not at all. Now her half of the money may be beyond her grasp. And unbeknownst to anyone, even her husband, Leslie needs it desperately.
When she meets a charismatic young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin—and has every reason to leave her past behind—the two make a reckless bargain: Mary will impersonate Robin for a week in exchange for Robin’s half of the cash. But neither realizes how high the stakes will become when Mary takes a dead woman’s name. Even as Mary begins to suspect Leslie is hiding something, and Leslie realizes the stranger living in her house, babysitting her newborn son, and charming her husband has secrets of her own, Robin’s wild, troubled legacy threatens to eclipse them both.
An electric, twisted portrait of sisterhood and the ties that bind, The Better Liar is a stunning debut with a heart-stopping, twist-after-twist finale that will beg the question: How far would you go to get what’s yours?
I loved the two main characters, who were flawed yet likable, larger than life yet believable. The shifting and at times explosive dynamic between the two of them is fascinating. And every character seems to have a secret, so you are never really sure what they might do to one another at any moment. This makes for a number of shocking twists, most of which I did NOT see coming.
There are several interesting themes at play in this story, although mentioning them may prove to be too much of a spoiler for those who have yet to read it. The one I believe I can mention is the concept that we all contain different personalities and identities, which we perform - and shift into and out of - in order to be accepted or get our needs met.
From Chapter 40:
“The more you know someone, the more someones you know. They kaleidoscope outward before your eyes. If you feel you’re finally getting a handle on someone’s true self, you haven’t got a clue. Once you’ve met forty versions of them, then you can comfort yourself you’re getting closer.”
I won’t mention the most prevalent issue that the book addresses, but I WILL say that it’s something that should be addressed much more in our culture. And it would be, I might add, if we weren’t living in a patriarchy.
I applaud Jones for exploring her own fears around this issue. As they say, “The more personal you make it, the more universal it becomes,” and I think this is true here.
I highly recommend this read!
Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC!
This latest from King is more psychological thriller than horror, which is fine by me. The children in the story really come fully alive on the page, and the setting of the Institute seems very real and believable, despite how dark, twisted and far fetched it could have seemed, in less capable hands.
Twelve year old Luke is kidnapped by intruders and wakes up inside a bedroom that looks similar to his own. He’ll soon find out that he is trapped inside The Institute with a group of other kids with special talents like telekinesis and telepathy. And at The Institute, “You check in, but you don’t check out.”
The staff at The Institute poke and prod Luke and the other kids, giving them shots and various other treatments in an attempt to gain control over their minds and abilities. As kids start disappearing to the Back Half, never to be seen again, Luke realizes that he must attempt what no child there has ever accomplished — an escape.
For me, this book got off to a slow start and had a slow finish. The story really came fully alive once Luke was introduced, and we started on his journey. Granted, King is such a masterful writer that even a slow bit of storytelling is interesting: still, I think it would have been tighter and possibly more effective without the first fifty or so pages and the last fifty or so pages. But outside of that, the remainder of the story was gripping, intriguing and un-put-downable.
If I had to sum this book up in one word it, it would be ‘charming.’ If I could use two words, it would be ‘utterly charming.’ I loved the blend of genres in this! In my opinion, this book is first and foremost a romance, secondly historical fiction, and thirdly, a gothic thriller.
In 1875, Alva Webster - a young and wealthy widow with a sullied reputation - moves from Europe back to New York to restore a dilapidated mansion and make a fresh start. The mansion, it turns out, is haunted, which draws the attention of a young inventor and sometimes-paranormal-researcher named Sam Moore, who is part of an eccentric and partially wild family of nationally celebrated scientists. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets surrounding Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history - and her heart.
Biller is at her best when creating witty dialogue and whimsical situations. Her characterizations and interactions amongst Sam’s family are such fun! I could easily read a whole book focused entirely on the peculiar yet lovable Moore family and their scientific exploits. I also loved the dialogue and cat-and-mouse play between Alva and Sam as they get to know each other.
While the psychological underpinnings of Alva seemed incredibly real and interesting, I was left wishing that the dramatic moments and scenes rose to the same level of craft as the lighter and more humorous scenes. I mean that as a testament to Biller’s skill at creating bold, idiosyncratic characters and writing witty banter.
I definitely enjoyed this read! If you are into romance or light historical fiction, I’d recommend it. If you don’t go into it expecting a full-on gothic feel, you won’t be disappointed. And you will probably find yourself smiling and laughing. It’s impossible to read this without being charmed into a good mood.
Thank you St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the ARC!