Written by CL Taylor — There are so many crime fiction book series these days that it’s refreshing to come across an author who likes writing one-off psychological thrillers. The Lie is CL Taylor’s second novel, and is a book that will grab you from the very first sentence, never letting go until the final full stop. Normal life will be difficult while a part of your brain is yearning to get back inside its cover.
On the surface, Jane Hughes is a lucky woman. She has a job she adores, working at a local animal rescue centre in rural Wales, a sweet little cottage that she calls home and a burgeoning relationship with her boyfriend Will, a teacher. On first acquaintance, you might be forgiven for thinking that Jane is too good to be true. And, do you know what? You’d be right. Taylor carefully builds up a crystal clear image of Jane in chapter one, only for it to be shattered by the final sentence of that chapter. For Jane isn’t Jane at all. She is Emma Wolfe, and someone is about to blow her cover.
So who is Emma Wolfe, and why is she living under an assumed name? It all becomes clearer in chapter two, which takes us back five years, where Emma and her friend Daisy receive a desperate phone call from another member of their close circle. Leanne is in a gay club in another part of town, desperately trying to stop the fourth member of their little group, Al, from doing something stupid. Daisy is blonde and beautiful and always the life and soul of the party, Leanne hangs on her every word with an enthusiasm that borders on hero worship, while Emma is something of the voice of reason. Whatever their roles, they have their work cut out to calm down a jealous Al, who has spotted her ex-girlfriend out and about with a new squeeze and is out for bloody revenge.
Al’s obsession is ruining her life and her friends decide to get her away from it all with a well-earned holiday. Ibiza is a favourite destination, but Leanne has other ideas. She’s heard of a fabulous retreat in Nepal and wants them to go there. Foolishly, the girls agree. And that decision is destined to be the worst one they ever made because, of the four young women who set off on the trip of a lifetime, only two return.
The story moves seamlessly between the two timelines. In the present, Jane’s carefully constructed new life is unravelling before her eyes. Who knows her secret and what can she do to stop them revealing everything? And believe me, there is plenty to reveal. We also follow Emma and her friends as they begin to piece together the reality hidden behind the seemingly tranquil and non-threatening facade of their mountaintop retreat. As both narrative strands develop, the tension ratchets up to near-screaming point – don’t be surprised to find your fingernails digging into the palms of your hands as you try to stop yourself chewing on them.
CL Taylor has come up with a second novel every bit as good as her debut, The Accident, and that’s some achievement. Set aside a good chunk of reading time for The Lie, because one you’ve started it, you’ll be hard-pushed to put it down again.
The Lie is released 23 April.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars