Written by Carys Jones — Charles Lloyd is very near the pinnacle of British politics. He is the Deputy Prime Minister. He has power, popularity, an attentive, attractive wife as well as a young and beautiful mistress. Lorna Thomas, passionate about politics, has joined his office as an intern, and before too long she is enjoying an affair with her distinguished boss. When her internship is over, Lorna learns that the affair is also over. Lloyd, conflicted with his political and personal responsibilities, reluctantly ends the relationship.
Much later, he is pointedly handed a newspaper by his personal secretary, who had disapproved of his affair all along but kept her own counsel. He is horrified to read that Lorna has apparently committed suicide by driving her car headlong into a tree. His resultant grief and sense of guilt are such that he begins to lose the will do his demanding job, and his home life is turning into an elaborate charade. Things get infinitely worse when he hosts a meeting with the new batch of interns, and comes face to face with Lorna’s twin sister, Laurie.
Laurie’s deep empathy with her twin has convinced her that the dead girl could not have committed suicide, and she wants Lloyd to use his power to get to the truth. Is there a clue in a report on the car’s roadworthiness which has gone missing? What if Lorna had been prepared to sell the story of her illicit romance to a notorious tabloid newspaper? Who stood to lose if she had succeeded?
The book sits quite rather gingerly on the outer edge of the crime fiction genre, as it is primarily a story of romantic obsession. There is not much by the way of investigation, as the search for the truth about Lorna’s death is carried out away from the narrative by a mysterious third party. You just might have come across the brilliant use of identical twins – Lily and Rose – in John Fowles’ highly regarded novel, the Magus (1965). While Prime Deception is not in that class, the relationship between the twins – in this case one dead and one living – is explored with compassion and sensitivity. For me this is the strongest part of the book. The portrayal of Lloyd is largely effective, but is a little too decent a human being to have clawed his way to the top branches of political life? Certainly, the long established theme of power being the ultimate aphrodisiac is worked with great skill by the author, and Lloyd’s personal anguish is unflinchingly described.
As is sometimes the case with digital books there are a number of typos and mistakes which the traditional publishing process tends to remove. None of these hinder the narrative to any great extent, but it is irritating when something which is generally well written but lacks the final polish. That said, if you like writing with flair and passion, then Jones ticks both boxes. In a book with just a handful of main characters, the list of suspects was never going to be a long one, but I was quite surprised at the final outcome. In conclusion, the book is not without its flaws, but is the work of a young author who writes with conviction and authority. We reviewed her earlier book Not All Stars Sparkle here.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars