Beautiful Lies begins with a classically sneaky and intensely emotional introduction scene to draw us in with the intent to capture. In the beginning, the bouncing between past and present tense is a bit odd. It couldn’t have been too odd, however, because all 374 pages were absorbed in a night.
Lisa Unger’s writing style is conversational, with cute little asides that begin with “Well, I wasn’t always…” and “Well, I should get to the point here.”
Jokes are made about just how many mysteries begin with a rich uncle who dies and leaves our heroine independently wealthy and able to go adventuring unfettered by mundane things like jobs. In this book, yes, there is a rich old uncle - Max - who dies, leaving our angst-ridden heroine comfortable enough to put her freelancing on hold to venture into the dark streets of New York City. The analogy to other books of the genre ends there, however.
Unger’s characters are honest and real; their personal issues and inadequacies resonate. While they don’t leap off the pages to animatedly tell their tales, they are vibrant enough to draw the reader in to discover where their journeys will take them. Unger also explores the climate and culture of the modern American family with unflinching honesty. The heroine, a writer, is launched into mystery and crisis after finding herself in the public spotlight. Her momentary fame makes her a target and dredges up a murky past.
If I were to register a complaint, the most offensive that could be mustered is that the author tends to overuse her favorite personifications and analogies, and seems to employ a Word Of The Day calendar when writing. Her personifications are so good, however, and ring so true that it is hard to really complain too much about them.
Lisa Unger is another voice in romantic suspense along the lines of Nora Roberts or perhaps an updated Phyllis Whitney. Her writing is raw yet but shows a lot of promise. Beautiful Lies lives up to the promise of being suspenseful, throwing in unexpected twists - definitely worth an evening of reading.