Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on The Lying Game.
Ware is a favorite of mystery lovers; her latest thriller, The Lying Game, is just as compelling as
In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, psychological suspense at its most deliciously confounding. Most of the drama is set at the cliffs of the English Channel.
Where an unrelenting sea batters against land’s faltering resistance, four
friends meet 15 years after their sojourn together at a second-rate girl’s academy. Each has promised to come to one another’s aid should the need arise. When Kate Atagon texts “I need you” to the others, Isa, Fatima and Thea set out immediately, no questions asked, to the Tide Mill where Kate still lives
and long-buried memories were put to rest one tragic day.
Isa Wilde, a civil service lawyer, packs up baby Freya, leaving lover Owen behind. Fatima, a happily married physician, responds as well, dressed proudly in the garb of her faith.
The predictably late Thea is the last to arrive in answer to Kate’s request. Though all the women have matured, they are bound together by the years at Salten House, where they formed an exclusive group of friends, perfecting “The Lying Game” with which to torture their fellow students. Needing no one else to complete the perfect balance of their friendship, the girls ignored the others, earning the enmity of fellow students. They didn’t care. All four were expelled the same year that Kate’s father, Ambrose, an artist/professor who taught at Salten House, disappeared, never to be seen again. None have been in contact since then until responding to
the call for help, “the four of us skewered together tightly by the past.”
The aura of secrecy hangs heavily over this picturesque tale of four impressionable young women at a pivotal time in their lives, hypnotized by friendships so quickly formed, a panacea to loneliness cemented by the inherent rebellion of their ages.
All are in awe of Ambrose Atagan’s talent, an artist who captures the rare beauty and complexity of young women on the cusp of the future. The girls believe they are unique, a clique that remains aloof from schoolmates, tagged by others as “The Liars Club” for their skill in trapping the unsuspecting in elaborate lies, then exposing their victims for their gullibility. The girls are inordinately proud of this talent to deceive, spending delicious weekends away from school at Kate’s home at the Tide Mill, her father’s loft filled with sketches and paintings, redolent with turpentine, an exotic, otherworldly abode where friends indulge in uncensored freedom that tempers troubles, a place where pacts are made and secrets are kept. Now their most important secret--the one built around Kate’s father’s disappearance and her claim to Tides Mill--is at risk.
Though all are grown, the bond of sisterhood is just as vital, the familiarity of Kate’s home suffused with memories of the past, those exquisite months of freedom. The past is suddenly alive, the present pushed aside as the friends address Kate’s reason for calling for help. Baby Freya is a constant presence, drawing Isa back to the reality of her life with Owen, the baby’s squeals and wails a backdrop for an unfolding drama and the slow acknowledgment of truth. Fatima is the solid one, practical yet comforting.
Beautiful Thea wears the scars of her difficult life, both physical and psychic. Kate depends on them all in crisis, keeper of the place where a bond is pledged, an artist as passionate as her father and just as mysterious… with a story to tell.
Ware has an extraordinary gift, capturing character and place, youth and maturity, the ties of friendship and the demands of reality, tapping into the complicated years of young womanhood, the paths not taken and the price of secrets.