The Liar's Girl
Sometimes, I get tired of mysteries set in places like London, New York City, or Los Angeles, so I was pleased to discover that The Liar’s Girl was set in Ireland. Plus, the synopsis sounded fabulous, so I decided to give this psychological suspense novel a try, and I’m pretty glad I did.
It’s been ten years since Alison Smith has been back home to Ireland, but she thinks about it almost every day. She tries hard to push all thoughts of the people she left behind and the events that caused her to relocate to the Netherlands from her mind, but there are some things you can’t forget no matter how hard you try. For the most part, Alison likes the life she’s living now. She has a close-knit group of friends, and her job isn’t terrible, but Alison knows this isn’t the life she was meant to live.
When she was just eighteen, Alison moved to Dublin to attend university. There, she met and fell head over heels for Will Hurley, a charismatic young man who treated her like a queen. Her university experience was everything she dreamed it would be, and Alison couldn’t have been happier.
A few months into her first term, the bodies of several young women were found washed up along the Grand Canal. Most of the women Alison associated with were frightened, though they all hid it the best they could. And then, terror struck incredibly close to home for Alison, when the final victim turned out to be her best friend Liz. To make matters much worse, Will was arrested and later convicted of the crimes, leaving Alison bereft and utterly unable to cope.
Now, Alison’s past is coming back to haunt her, for the body of yet another female student has been found washed up on the banks of the canal. Law enforcement officials questioned Will – who is still in prison for his previous crimes. Will claims to have information about the latest murder, but he refuses to share it with anyone but Alison, and so, Alison reluctantly returns to Dublin and to Will, in hopes of uncovering the truth once and for all.
I was expecting a fast-paced story filled with lots of twists and turns, and, while The Liar’s Girl is pretty twisty, I wouldn’t exactly call it fast-paced. The middle portion drags quite a bit, and I found it hard to remain interested in all the minutiae the author choses to include. We also spend a great deal of time with Alison and her thoughts, which grew tiresome after a while. It’s not that there’s a lack of dialogue exactly, but there are some pretty long stretches taken up with Alison pondering something or other.
I found Alison quite relatable. Her relationship with a convicted serial killer has obviously scarred her, but she experiences quite a bit of growth throughout the story. She doesn’t end up completely healed, but she’s made some great strides in that direction by the end.
Will is a very tricky character in more ways than one. When Alison visits him for the first time, he tells her he didn’t kill anyone after all. He insists he was framed, and he has all these wild conspiracy theories to back up his claims. At first, I dismissed what he was saying, but, as the story progressed, I found myself wondering if he had been set up after all, but I never actually liked him. The author makes that pretty hard to do, but I did end up feeling more sympathy for him than I expected to.
The end of the novel totally blew me away. I thought I had things all figured out, and then this huge twist came, seemingly out of nowhere, and it totally changed my perceptions of previous events. Twists are kind of the hallmarks of these types of books, and I’ve been known to figure them out before the author intended me to, but not so with this one.
The Liar’s Girl is far from my favorite mystery so far this year, but I still consider it worth reading. Its setting is refreshing, and its characters are complex enough to feel like real people. Plus, it has an utterly stellar ending. If I could recommend this book on the strength of that ending alone, I totally would.