Kate’s Review: “The Lying Game”

32895291Book: “The Lying Game” by Ruth Ware

Publishing Info: Gallery/Scout Press, July 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Review: As you guys have seen on this blog previously, one of my favorite suspense writers out there today is Ruth Ware. I read and reviewed both “In A Dark, Dark Wood” for this blog, as well as “The Woman in Cabin 10”, so of course I was going to pick up Ware’s most recent novel, “The Lying Game”. These women centric whodunits are the perfect reads for travel and leisure, as they go down very easily and keep you entertained. When I finally got to “The Lying Game”, I settled in, ready for a page turner with twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Our protagonist is Isa, a relatively new mother of a baby named Freya and partner to a kind man named Owen. She’s made a new life for herself away from her teenage years, where she had a tight knit group of friends named Kate, Thea, and Fatima, with whom she shares a deep secret. They haven’t seen each other in years, trying to suppress their past in various ways. But when a body is found in the town of their boarding school, one that may reveal too much, they are flung back together. The bonds of a secret are hardly a new theme in books like this, but the strengths are in the characters here. While Isa is our protagonist, she actually felt like the least interesting of the foursome, falling back on pretty well explored tropes. Shy and meek, but fiery when it comes to her child, and in a relationship with a well meaning but somewhat clueless man, I was more frustrated with Isa than I wanted to be. I was far more interested in Fatima, the most centered of the group who has become a surgeon and has recently become more faithful in her practice of Islam. We so rarely get ‘with it’ women at the forefront of these stories, and I think that Fatima had some serious potential and more to explore than Isa. Isa was just a woman who is falling apart because of the lies she’s told, and it’s not only a frustrating scenario to watch play out, it’s also been done before and didn’t really give me much to chew on.

But the atmosphere in this book is exceptionally spot on. If you want to guarantee a moody atmosphere for a novel, you really can’t go wrong with a house in a tidal estuary that is right on the water. It worked for “The Woman in Black”, and it works here as well. Kate, the woman who has stayed behind after the disappearance of her father and the secret shared between them, is living in her childhood home… which is slowly sinking into the water. The idea of a house that at certain tidal times is close to being enveloped by water is creepy and suffocating, and it really added to the general unease of this novel. While all of these women are still somewhat trapped at The Reach, Kate is trapped there physically as well as emotionally. The secrets that the Reach and these women hold are always just beneath the surface, and as they start to rise up the tension builds so slowly you don’t realize it’s there until you’re already drowning in it. You add that into the fact that this is a small town with a prestigious boarding school, and you know that the scandal and secrets are going to be oozing off the page. Boarding schools and sinking houses in an isolated setting? Hell yes I’m going to love that.

In terms of the mysteries and secrets of this book, it was kind of a mixed bag. There were some things that I definitely was caught off guard about, or at least didn’t figure it out until Ware wanted me to. But there were other things that I figured out pretty early on, and when it came to the ultimate climax and the ultimate solution, I was left kind of underwhelmed. While I don’t necessarily want to have twist after twist after twist, I also kind of want to have a little bit of a ‘gasp!’ moment when it comes to the solution to a book like this. I didn’t really get that anywhere in this book. If the characters had been a little bit stronger on all ends, I could have given it a bit of a pass, but as it was, I think that of Ware’s three books “The Lying Game” is the weakest for me.

That isn’t to say it’s a bad read at all. “The Lying Game” was a quick and tense read, and I tore through it pretty quickly. Fans of this genre really should give it a go, because it’s a solid mystery with some good suspense in it.

Rating 7: A solid premise with some good suspense building, but the solution was a bit underwhelming, just as the main character was grating at times. The atmosphere and the supporting characters, however, were solid.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Lying Game” is included on the Goodreads lists “2017 Library Recommended Books”, and “Anticipated/Best 2017 Literary Fiction”.

Find “The Lying Game” at your library using WorldCat!

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