The Lying Kind
I’m always on the lookout for compelling mysteries, so I was thrilled when I read the synopsis for The Lying Kind, the first book in Alison James’ new series featuring Detective Rachel Prince. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to my expectations.
The story opens a few months after six-year-old Lola Jade Harper vanishes, seemingly into thin air. One minute she was safely tucked up in bed, and the next, she was gone without a trace. Her mother Michelle is quick to lay the blame at the feet of her soon-to-be ex-husband Gavin, but the police investigation has turned up nothing.
Enter Rachel Prince, one of those extremely successful police detectives who seems able to solve every case she’s given. This one is turned over to her in the hopes she’ll see something previous investigators missed, and, as you would expect, she almost immediately senses something is off. She finds herself suspicious of Michelle’s story, but she can’t quite pin down the reason why. She and her partner begin attempting to reconstruct the night of Lola’s disappearance, but something still rings false to Rachel.
Then the body of a young woman is found. At first, Rachel sees absolutely no connection between this dead woman and Lola’s disappearance, but as she continues to investigate, she discovers a series of social media posts that begin to make her think the two cases might be linked after all. The nature of the connection isn’t made clear to the reader right away, and I found this a little frustrating – it felt like the author was being deliberately vague in an attempt to amp up the suspense. Normally, I have no objection at being somewhat in the dark, but only if the main character is in the dark as well. Here, it’s obvious Rachel knows certain things the author isn’t making clear to the reader, and I found myself struggling to make sense of events.
To further complicate matters, a second child disappears and Rachel and her team are left scrambling to uncover a series of horrible truths that will forever change the lives of those involved. Again, I was given the distinct impression that the characters possessed information I did not, and I struggled to stay engaged with the novel because of this. Rachel was constantly tearing off in what seemed to be nonsensical directions, the reasons for which weren’t always made clear to me.
Speaking of Rachel, I found her character extremely difficult to relate to. She is in her mid-thirties, and it’s obvious from the start that she’s carrying around quite a bit of emotional baggage. I’m normally a fan of complex heroines who are struggling to find themselves in one way or another, but Rachel rubbed me the wrong way pretty much from the start of the book. She refuses to deal with her issues, even when they are staring her in the face, preferring instead to walk away from whatever the problem is. She treats her coworkers abominably, but no one ever seems to call her on her bad behavior. Instead, everyone seems sort of in awe of her, and I struggled to understand the reasons why.
The mystery itself could have been quite compelling if the author had chosen to craft her reveals differently. Obviously, I don’t want every clue to be laid out for me in a straightforward manner, but I do want to be able to follow the logic of the investigator as she learns the truth. In The Lying Kind, answers seem to appear from out of nowhere, and I often had no idea how Rachel and her team came up with them. As you might imagine, this made for a very frustrating reading experience.
On the whole, I cannot recommend The Lying Kind. I was just glad to reach the end and move on to something more satisfying.