Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Book Review: One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

A Review Without a Spoiler?  That’ll Be Tough But Here Goes…

Misdirection is at the heart of One Perfect Lie.  In fact, it’s so integral that to say much about the plot is difficult without making it a spoiler.  So, I won’t.  But there is something to be said about other elements, such as pacing (OK, but inconsistent for a couple of reasons) and character development (probably the best part).

This book was recommended to me by a friend because it’s a thriller that uses more than the usual array of fists, torture, guns, car chases, etc.  It also involves the use of psychology to control and manipulate others.  I did find that addition interesting, at least until the twist.  The thing about a twist is that everything that proceeds it should make sense after the ‘reveal.’ In other words, you should be able to reframe everything, but in this case, the psychological ploys no longer fit.  So, a potential plus became a bit of a letdown.

Character development was good.  The young men (mainly, members of a high school baseball team) and their moms felt real for the most part.  The mothers, in particular, grew within the story, and I applauded their efforts to turn their lives around.  The only downside was that after their changes in heart, they tended to act somewhat impulsively, calling, writing texts, and posting on social media without always having the facts.  Sometimes, they acted as if no one else was involved, but you can’t fault them for inaction.

Pacing of the story is OK, with the requisite chase scenes, deaths, and confrontations.  But it’s inconsistent for a couple of reasons.  First, there are extensive side stories about the moms and their sons (and a husband in one case).  But those tales are so protracted, it seemed like the title of the book should be, Three Women Get their Lives Together.  The other damper on pacing was the conclusion, which you expect to be fast and tense for a thriller.  Unfortunately, the end is so difficult to believe that eye-rolling is more likely than a knot-in-the-stomach.

Overall, One Perfect Lie has the action of a thriller, including some novel use of psychological ploys in addition to violence.  But the impact is limited because not all the action fits after the twist, the side stories take too much of the stage, and the finale nudges the story toward the fantasy genre.

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