One Perfect Lie
One Perfect Lie is the latest standalone thriller from bestselling author Lisa Scottoline. I’ve enjoyed many of her legal thrillers in the past, especially those in her Rosotto and Associates series, but have had a bit less luck with her standalones. Unfortunately, I have to add this one to the column of books that didn’t work for me at all.
Chris Brennan has come to the sleepy town of Central Valley Pennsylvania in search of a new start. At least, that’s what he tells people, especially the administrators of Central Valley High School where he’s applying for the job of government teacher and assistant baseball coach. He seems like the perfect candidate; his references are impeccable, and his resumé is flawless. He’s a charming guy, just the kind of person people open up to immediately, so, of course, he gets the job. Unfortunately, Chris Brennan is not at all what he seems. Everything about him is a lie. He’s come to Central Valley with an ulterior motive, one he’ll stop at nothing to achieve.
Susan Sematov is a widow working hard to keep her family together following the recent death of her husband after a brief but brutal battle with cancer. Both Susan’s sons are struggling to come to terms with the loss of their father but Raz, the youngest, is having an extremely hard time. He’s become withdrawn and prone to fits of temper. Baseball seems the one thing likely to save him.
Heather Larkin has been a single mother for the past seventeen years. She basically lives for her son Jordan, and, in her opinion, she couldn’t ask for a better boy. He’s hard-working, kind, and a great athlete; he’s just made the Varsity baseball team, and become friends with the rich and popular Evan Kostis. Surely he’s entered what Heather likes to think of as the winner’s circle and he’ll have everything she’s always wanted for him.
Mindy Kostis is discontented with her life. Her husband may be a very successful surgeon, but he’s cheated on her in the past, and she’s beginning to think he might be doing so again. Still, she does what she can to keep up the pretense of living the perfect life. Sure, she might drink a little too much, but it helps her cope.
As Chris begins to grow close to Raz, Jordan, and Evan, things begin to unravel rapidly. Fights break out, secrets and betrayals come to light, and the people of Central Valley are confronted with an evil they never expected. And, at the center of it all is Chris Brennan.
So – the description makes the book sounds pretty great, right? Well, it might have been If Chris’s motive hadn’t been revealed before the book was half over. I kept hoping it was a sort of red herring, but it definitely was not; the author showed her hand way too early, which ruined the book.
Once the reader knows the truth about Chris, his whole character seems to change. At first, there’s a sense of malevolence around him that sucked me right in. I wanted to know what he was really doing in Central Valley, and whether or not he would succeed with whatever that was. Then, I learned the truth, and suddenly, that sence of foreboding I got whenever he appeared disappeared completely. Maybe my perception of him changed, or maybe the author began to write him differently as the book progressed. I’m guessing it was a bit of both, but I really didn’t enjoy it.
There was no sense of urgency as the book reached its climax. I love mysteries that keep me guessing until the very end, and this one is certainly not one of those. I pretty much figured out how things were going to go, and they ended up going exactly that way. There were a few plot points I didn’t see coming, but they weren’t very important in the grand scheme of things.
One Perfect Lie is one of those books that doesn’t live up to its synopsis, something that always makes me sad when I encounter it. This novel had so much potential, but just didn’t deliver in the end. Sadly, I cannot recommend it.