Whenever I think of a Lisa Jackson book, a sizzling romance combined with spine-tingling suspense comes to mind, so that’s what I was expecting when I picked up her latest release, Liar, Liar. Unfortunately, while it definitely delivers on the suspense front, there is little to no romance, and it took me a little while to settle into the story. Luckily, once I got hooked in, I didn’t miss the romantic element quite as much as I expected to.
It’s been twenty years since Remmi last saw her mother Didi Storm, a former beauty queen turned celebrity impersonator who was working the Vegas strip. She was very dedicated to her work, and had little time for her teenage daughter and infant twins, preferring to spend whatever free time she did have partying. On the last night Remmi saw her mother, she had secreted herself in her mother’s car and witnessed a very mysterious and sinister rendezvous that ended with Didi handing one of the twins over to a man Remmi didn’t know. Once they returned home, Remmi confronted Didi about the missing twin, but Didi refused to let Remmi in on what was going on and later that same evening, she took the remaining twin and disappeared into thin air, leaving Remmi to pick up the pieces of her life as best she could.
In the two decades since Didi vanished, Remmi has done her best to move on with her life, a task that sometimes feels impossible. No matter how hard she tries not to think about her missing family members, Remmi is continuously haunted by what she saw that night deep in the Mojave desert. And when a tell-all book is published about the life of the enigmatic Didi Storm, Remmi becomes determined to learn the truth about that night once and for all.
To further complicate things, a woman dressed in one of Didi’s Marilyn Monroe costumes leaps to her death from the rooftop of a San Francisco hotel. At first, everyone, including the police, is convinced the dead woman is Didi herself, but after Remmi sees the body and swears it’s not her missing mother, police detective Dani Settler begins to dig deeper into what really happened to Didi all those years ago in hopes of finding a connection to the deceased woman.
Dani doesn’t want Remmi meddling in the investigation, but Remmi isn’t willing to sit back and wait for news. She feels she’s waited far too long as it is, so she teams up with private investigator Noah Scott – her childhood crush – who just so happens to also have been in the desert on the night Didi went missing. Together, Remmi and Noah uncover a web of greed, deception, and long-hidden secrets that some very powerful people are determined to keep from coming to light.
Liar, Liar turned out to be quite riveting. The story moves back and forth in time between the present day and the time leading up to Didi’s disappearance. I didn’t expect to see things from Didi’s point of view, so the fact that we do actually get to spend some time in her head came as quite a pleasant surprise. She’s definitely not a likable character, but I enjoyed getting to know her just the same.
It’s pretty clear that Remmi and Noah are attracted to one another, but Ms. Jackson doesn’t choose to do much with that particular plot point. We know the two of them had feelings for one another as teenagers, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a second chance love story, so I was surprised to see their romance just kind of fizzle out. The author hints at the fact that they might rekindle things at a later point in time, but there’s no concrete evidence of this.
Ms. Jackson really knows how to write a chilling mystery, and that’s probably the strongest thing about this particular novel. I was kept guessing right until the very end, even though I thought for sure I had at least a few things figured out. The villains feel very believable, even when their actions are on the extreme side. Sometimes, authors try too hard to make their villains evil and it comes off as cartoonish, but Ms. Jackson doesn’t fall into that particular trap.
If you go into this expecting the kind of romantic suspense Lisa Jackson is known for, you’re likely to be disappointed. Instead, I urge potential readers to pick up Liar, Liar and appreciate it for what it actually is, a fast-paced mystery sure to keep you reading late into the night.