First-time novelist John Hart delivers an utterly enthralling debut in The King Of Lies. The main protagonist in this sensational, emotional thriller is Jackson Workman Pickens, a North Carolina criminal defense attorney dubbed “Work” by most people. He worked for his father’s firm, standing in the shadow cast by his larger–than-life - and unscrupulous - father, Ezra Pickens.
To say he struggles with his personal demons would be an understatement. The book opens with Work being told about his father’s body having been found. The elder Pickens has been missing for eighteen months, and now that his body has surfaced things start to get interesting. Stuck in a bad marriage and dealing with his poor emotional choices (including how he treats his mistress, Vanessa) and his severely traumatized sister, Work becomes the main suspect in the investigation of his father’s murder: he is the benefactor of a fifteen million dollar inheritance.
The King Of Lies is a solid combination of legal thriller, murder mystery, and serious emotional drama all wrapped into one. Though it works well as a mystery, the strongest element of the story is the family drama. There is much to be said for identifying with a character; you want to like them or hate them. As can be seen in real life, some people and family situations are shades of gray, neither all good nor all bad. There are ups and downs, assumptions and accusations, and sometimes maturity and understanding. This is what sets The King Of Lies above the average murder-mystery. Though it seems that every character has his or her own set of emotional baggage, that doesn’t take away from the story - depending on what tickles your fancy, the drama or strictly the mystery.
Of several tense scenes, one that stands out is when Work is informed about all the stipulations in Ezra’s will by his lawyer, Clarence Handley. With very good audio production and a fantastic voice performance by David Chandler, The King Of Lies is an excellent listening experience for those who enjoy haunted characters who prove that no one is infallible.