I’m not going to lie. I’m ambivalent about NY Times bestselling author Ruth Ware’s third novel. There are no spoilers ahead and the title is linked to Amazon:
Psychological suspense is hot, hot, hot right now–especially titles targeting women readers.
And in THE LYING GAME, British writer Ruth Ware flashes between the current lives of four thirty-something young women and their shared past at a second-rate boarding school where something bad happened.
Isa, Fatima and Thea receive a text message from former schoolmate Kate saying, “I need you.”
Dropping everything (and that means for new mother, Isa, dragging infant Freya along) the three women and baby Freya arrive at Kate’s mysterious, run-down home, The Mill.
Set mostly in the coastal village of Salten, The Mill is set by a tidal estuary. The boarding school is not too far away from Kate’s home. The rest of Salten is certainly no Martha’s Vineyard. More like a creepy town out of a Stephen King novel.
And what’s a creepy story without a decomposing body washing up on the beach?
I loved the Gothic elements of the story–it’s what attracted me to plunking down the clams for this book. But I found Isa’s story-line in London to be a bit tedious.
And speaking of tedious, baby Freya was either attached to Isa’s nipple, asleep, soiled, or in mortal danger. I could have done without her and would have enjoyed more character development between foursome Kate, Isa, Thea, and Fatima.
And don’t even get me started on Kate’s enigmatic step-brother, Luc. He changed from Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester into the madwoman in the attic, with a little Hotty McBody and Lester the Molester thrown in for good measure.
As far as pacing goes, this reader was not really sure what that BAD thing really was until about halfway through the book. (I later checked out some Amazon reviews and found I wasn’t alone.)
Of course, by then, even when I started to figure out the dead man’s secrets, I was so bogged down by the tedious lives of the women’s thirty-something counterpart-characters that I didn’t really care.
This book took me awhile to finish. And that’s not my normal reading M.O.
Toward the end, the book picked up steam and I started to enjoy it more, but Isa’s repetitive travels home to London and back to Salten slowed the narrative.
If you’ve read Ruth Ware’s other acclaimed titles THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 and IN A DARK, DARK WOOD, then you may totally love her latest.
As for me, THE LYING GAME didn’t deliver as compelling a story as I had hoped.
- Kate should have been better developed (as well as her family dynamic with Luc and her father.)
- Thea was a tiresome, wooden drunk.
- Baby Freya was about as fun as dragging a screaming baby along–well, anywhere.
- Isa’s relationship with her Baby Daddy didn’t ring true for me.
- And there was a lot more potential for an engaging narrative with the Salten Boarding School flashback story-line than the writer delivered.
All in all, I give this story a Three Fox Rating. Not exactly a memorable read, but not a waste of time and money either.
Thanks for stopping by. Happy reading.
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick
Foxy rating credit: Digital Graphics Cafe