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The Lie Maker


The Lie Maker

Linwood Barclay is incapable of writing a mediocre novel. I am sure his fans will agree, yet he is still not the household name I believe he deserves to be. Possibly THE LIE MAKER will change that.

I’ve been hooked on Barclay’s personal brand of intricately plotted psychological thrillers since NO TIME FOR GOODBYE, which I still consider to be among the best in the genre I have ever read. He has another classic on his hands with his latest effort, which is filled with such imaginative plot twists and turns that it becomes physically impossible to put the book down at any point. Be prepared for a night of lost sleep when you crack open the spine of this one!

"[THE LIE MAKER] is filled with such imaginative plot twists and turns that it becomes physically impossible to put the book down at any point.... It is easily one of the best thrillers of 2023!"

It begins with a moment in the past that will color everything else to come. Jack Givins and his mother are petrified as his father is pacing around their living room, looking out the window for someone to arrive. It seems that he has done some really bad things and cut a deal with the feds to place him in the U.S. Marshals’ WITSEC program. The problem is that he is going alone, as his wife refuses to let his mistakes ruin her and their son’s life. We witness the painful goodbye of a father and the son he likely will never see again.

Years later, Jack is a struggling writer. His first few novels did not make him a bestselling author, and he is trying to keep his head above water. His girlfriend, Lana, is a reporter who is looking into the case of a missing local judge who disappeared while walking his dog. This is followed by a young ER doctor who also suddenly goes missing. Astute readers will make note of these incidents as they no doubt will be tied to some other plotline down the road.

Jack applies for an interesting and initially anonymous job looking for a creative writer. When he visits an office down by the wharf that is an obvious front for something else, he meets Gwen, who goes on to reveal that she works with the U.S. Marshals. They need some fiction writers to come up with complete and fabricated bios for their candidates going into the WITSEC program and will pay him handsomely to do so. The twist is that he cannot tell anyone who he is working for, not even Lana.

Jack is given a file and asked to produce a sample bio for a man called “Bill.” After some editorial suggestions from Gwen, Jack begins to get a better feel for what his prospective employer is looking for. But he says that he would be able to do much better work if he could have a face-to-face with Bill. Gwen reluctantly agrees, and a blindfolded Jack is driven to a cabin somewhere in the woods where he is treated to a sit-down meeting with Bill. He then provides a full bio for him in preparation for his relocation.

Jack realizes that Gwen is completely unaware of his own past and family background, so he knows he must level with her. She is not happy when she learns that Givins is the surname of the man his mother married. He then asks her to try and locate his own father, who has been in the program for decades. It is at this point that the book runs off the rails, in every good way, as our crafty author has every eventuality covered in a plot that never ceases to surprise readers.

I admit that I did correctly guess one of the big reveals, but I was far from nailing every trick that Barclay had in store for me. THE LIE MAKER is the perfect title for this brilliant work. Not only does it depict the new role that Jack has taken on, it shines a light on someone whose entire life is built on lies and falsehoods, where discovering who he really is might come at a cost he is not prepared to make. It is easily one of the best thrillers of 2023!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 19, 2023

The Lie Maker
by Linwood Barclay

  • Publication Date: April 9, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0063276275
  • ISBN-13: 9780063276277