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The Lying Game


The Lying Game

The eagerly awaited new novel from Ruth Ware is here. For edge-of-your seat, page-turning suspense fans, the bestselling author of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD and THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10does it again. This time out, her protagonist is a quiet, broody nursing mother, living a quiet life on maternity leave from her job as a British Civil Service attorney when she receives an urgent text from her old boarding school friend of nearly two decades ago: “I need you.” These three words have been sent to two others of her fifth-form classmates.

These former roommates, who today would be called “mean girls,” became caught up in what started out as a lark. They created a game of telling fibs about others. You know the type: writing on bathroom walls, scribbles on workbooks, notes slipped under doors. They thought they were merely pranks, never knowing it could turn deadly nearly 20 years later.

They had rules. Oh yes, they had very strict rules: Rule One: TELL A LIE. Usually aimed at the popular girls, or instructors they disliked, a small fib, just for kicks. Rule Two: STICK TO YOUR STORY. Very important. Do not back down, so that Rule Three --- DON’T GET CAUGHT --- could never happen. Rule Four, the most important one of all, was NEVER LIE TO EACH OTHER.

"This gripping novel surpasses even Ware’s prior outings... THE LYING GAME will haunt you for a long time to come."

The three ladies have all moved on to their careers. Isa is a lawyer, Fatima is a doctor, and Thea works in entertainment. Only Kate, a local girl, has remained, living alone like a hermit in the rickety mill where she had lived with her devoted late father, the art instructor at the school, and her stepbrother. The girls had snuck out of school to spend many fun-filled weekends --- innocent on the face of it. But when that text comes from Kate, these young women know why. Each immediately puts aside their lives to travel to the seaside village on the English Channel where they once shared the dark incident that led to their midterm expulsion. Had the most important rule, DON’T GET CAUGHT, ultimately occurred?

Ware, a master at deftly threading the needle of suspense to draw you into this chilling tapestry, presents a collection of three fully realized and complex personalities, grown women with their own perspectives of the dilemma in which they now find themselves. Isa, toting her baby Freya on trains and across the marshes, has the most to lose. She comes to grips with the fact that she has continued to lie, not only to her husband, Owen, but also to herself. The consequences of her part in the act that took place so long ago could cost her not only her legal license, but also her husband’s, and even Freya, should she go to prison. Fatima, who has recently embraced her Muslim traditions, must come to terms not only with her religious truths and her medical oath, but also with her family. Thea, whose drug and alcohol addiction have dominated her sketchy adult life, must cling to what she knows.

It becomes clear that Rule Four, NEVER LIE TO EACH OTHER, has been broken. Who is behind the slaughter of the sheep? Who is mailing the incriminating pictures? Will the truth of their deed be exposed to authorities? Most importantly of all, when will Rule Five be invoked? WHEN TO STOP LYING.

Ware creates a knuckle-whitening scenario as the tide rises, the chill channel winds blow, and the sinking mill groans in the wind. Isa, with her obsession to her clinging infant, is the most sympathetic of the characters. There can be no doubt that the author is personally acquainted with that passionate emotion a woman feels towards the helpless babe whose very life depends on her every decision and move. This gripping novel surpasses even Ware’s prior outings, not only in suspense but also in the powerful tug of a parent’s devotion, that of Kate’s late father, and Isa and Fatima’s children. THE LYING GAME will haunt you for a long time to come.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 28, 2017

The Lying Game
by Ruth Ware