Is it a trend? You know, novels about people who appear somewhat normal but who are really and truly flawed? I’m starting to think so.
Think: You, Before I Go to Sleep, Alys Always, Gone Girl, Night Film, Girl on a Train.
All of which leads me to ask the question: are these stories reflective of the real truth. Are we all just a little bit nuts when it comes down to it, and is our facade of normalcy merely waiting to come crumbling down?
I just read The Truth and Other Lies and now I’m confused about everything. Is anything ever what it seems? Is anyone to be trusted? Are people just really weird? Am I weird (yes!)?
Coming off a high of light and juicy summer reads (hang tight on those reviews, I’m a very bad girl), this small but tight thriller by German author Sascha Arango was different and surprising, to say the least.
It was unusual for this genre. The crime was revealed near the beginning, and the unravelling of the fall-out was what was thrilling. Which was was unexpected. Fascinating.
Other ways to describe it? Adroit. Sparse, dark, and yes, even a bit disturbing. Bleak is another word that’s been used, but I would beg to differ. It has a sneaky warmth and humanity to it. Hidden, but it’s there.
The Truth and Other Lies is one of those books that is hard to review for want of giving anything away. Sure, I can fill you in on the plot details. But they won’t tell you anything about what’s really happening.
Henry Hayden is a hugely bestselling author who hasn’t ever written a word. His apparently charmed life is a facade that could come crumbling down at any moment. He lives a simple country life with his eccentric wife, who is the true literary genius. He’s a devoted husband who cheats, a sociopath who has oddly found moments of friendship and kindness. His tightly wrought web of lies could come crumbling down at any moment—his mistress is pregnant, his wife disappears, a stalker appears with a briefcase stuffed with background information on him. How will he extricate himself and what will he do, along with an unlikely ally, to maintain his deceptions?
What I love most about this novel is Arango’s storytelling. He manages to set scenes and have moments of brilliance while barely saying anything at all. But at the same time it’s rather emotionally confusing. You don’t want to like this book, in case you might be accused of identifying with anyone in it. Because, if I’m being honest with you, every single one of the well-drawn characters is flawed. They’re deliciously sick-in-the head. Nobody is likeable. Not-a-one. They reside in a terrible place with other horrible people who, just like they do, seem to travel the path of normalcy.
Which of course is what keeps interesting. And you thinking. How do they not know? How do they all get away with it?
We’ve got to wonder: who’s the bad one when it all comes down to it?
You won’t want to like this book. But you just might.
Will you read it? Buy it here.
Recommend Factor: 9/10
Unputdownable Factor: 9/10