Desert Isle Keeper
The Better Liar
Tanen Jones’ The Better Liar is one of those début novels that feels far too polished to be someone’s first book. Everything about it is pitch perfect, and I sped through it in a single sitting.
It’s been years since Leslie last laid eyes on her younger sister Robin. After their mother’s death when the girls were children, their lives were ruled by their abusive father until Robin ran away from home at the age of sixteen. Leslie remained near her childhood home, caring for her father as he grew older, and she’s never quite forgiven Robin for running off, leaving her with all the responsibilities that go along with caring for an aging parent.
When our story opens, their father has died, and Leslie has driven to Las Vegas in hopes of locating Robin. She would prefer not to seek out her sister, but her father has put certain stipulations in his will that make Robin’s presence necessary. Leslie really needs the $50,000 her father left her, and so she’s ready to do everything in her power to convince Robin to return home with her to settle the estate.
When Leslie arrives at Robin’s last known address, she is horrified to find her sister dead inside the run-down apartment. It seems Robin, who has struggled with drug addiction for years, has died of an overdose. There’s a part of Leslie that is grief-stricken by her sister’s unexpected death, but another part of her is frantically trying to come up with a way to get her hands on the money her father has left her. After all, if Robin has passed away, she can’t very well show up at the lawyer’s office as their father’s will mandates.
Not wanting to talk to the police or anyone else about her sister’s death, Leslie rushes out of the apartment and begins to drive aimlessly around the city. She knows she should return home, but she needs time to process what has happened and how this turn of events will affect her in the future. She stops at a local diner for a bite to eat, and while there, encounters a young woman named Mary, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Robin. The two women strike up a conversation, and Leslie rashly suggests Mary impersonate Robin in exchange for Robin’s half of their father’s estate. At first, Mary doesn’t seem too keen on this idea, but she eventually agrees to go along with what Leslie is proposing.
What follows is a wild and twisty ride unlike any of the thrillers I’ve read in recent years. Both Leslie and Mary are hiding some huge secrets, and things won’t make sense to readers right away. In fact, I even went back and reread a few pages, thinking I’d missed something vital in my initial reading. As it turned out, I hadn’t missed a thing. I just needed to keep on reading, allowing Ms. Jones to work her magic at her own pace.
This is a novel that will call into question every single thing you thought you knew about its characters and their stories. No one is who they appear to be, so knowing who to trust is all but impossible, but that’s okay, since everything does come clear at the end, and watching this fascinating tale unfold is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in quite some time. You’re probably wishing I’d tell you more about what to expect, but the less you know, the more you’ll enjoy The Better Liar, so pick it up as soon as you can. I promise you won’t regret it.