Title: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
From the author of one of Kirkus Reviews’ best books of the year, The Widower’s Wife, comes an electrifying story of love and deceit.
The truth can be darker than fiction.
Liza Cole, a once-successful novelist whose career has seen better days, has one month to write the thriller that could land her back on the bestseller list. Meanwhile, she’s struggling to start a family, but her husband is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. As stresses weigh her down in her professional and personal lives, Liza escapes into writing the chilling exploits of her latest heroine, Beth.
Beth, a new mother, suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she aims to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes what she’s doing, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.
Then, the lines between Liza’s fiction and her reality eerily blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the East River, and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including her own. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.
In Lies She Told, Cate Holahan skillfully utilizes the book within a book format which makes for an extremely riveting read as chapters alternate between author Liza Cole and the protagonist in her work in progress, Beth.
Liza is extremely stressed as she and her husband, David, struggle with infertility. Adding to their difficulties is the disappearance of David’s close friend and law partner, Nick Laundau, who disappeared a month earlier. Liza is also on a tight deadline for her next novel so she is immersed in her latest project as she departs for a writer’s conference. With her editor Trevor pressuring her for a sexy romantic suspense novel that will put her back on the bestseller’s list, Liza is exhausted, hormonal and frustrated by David’s preoccupation with finding Nick while at the same time trying to keep their law practice afloat. Liza is soon unable to tell fact from fiction as events in the present begin to bear eerie similarities to the novel she is writing. Is life imitating art? Or is there a far more sinister reason for the shocking parallels?
Until recently, Liza’s twelve year marriage to David has been quite happy and fulfilling. Until she failed to conceive, the only blight on their happiness is the fact that Nick intensely dislikes her and he makes no effort to keep his feelings about her secret. Her infertility has begun to take a toll on their marriage but she refuses to give up on becoming pregnany even though David is no longer an active participant. Liza is resentful of her husband’s lack of support and she is not exactly sympathetic to his concern over Nick’s disappearance.
Escaping her real life problems by focusing on her work in progress, Liza finds it surprisingly easy to get inside the head of her protagonist, Beth. Beth is a new mother who stumbles across irrefutable proof her husband is cheating on her. Instead of confronting him, she becomes obsessed with him and his mistress. This obsession culminates with a horrific act and eventually the events in Liza’s novel begin to mimic the harrowing experiences happening in real life. Which begs the question: is Liza’s work in progress a product of her imagination?
From the chilling prologue until the action-packed conclusion, Lies She Told by Cate Holahan is an engrossing, suspense-laden read. Liza is a fascinating protagonist whose flaws make her sympathetic and relatable. The chapters from the work in progress are intriguing and just as interesting as the drama unfolding in Liza’s everyday life. This intricately plotted novel has plenty of twists, turns and a brilliantly executed book within a book concept that will keep readers on the edge of their seat until the shocking dénouement. An absolutely outstanding mystery that fans of the genre do not want to miss!