Welcome to my stop on the 'Lie With Me' blog tour!
In May last year, I received a copy of 'Lie With Me' via bookbridgr, but unfortunately I didn't have the time to read it once it arrived. I was intending on going back to it, but with so many other releases filling my inbox it slipped further and further down my TBR.
That's why I'm so grateful to Vero Norton for contacting me with this wonderfully exciting opportunity. It gave me a kick up the bum and made me prioritise this book, and I'm so glad that I finally picked it up because it is gripping.
'It struck me in the night that this might have started earlier.'I'm not a big fan of instant foreshadowing.
I often find that it's too cliched, giving away a huge part of the plot before the action can progress and before we can learn to care about the characters and what could possibly happen to them. If you know something bad is going to happen to someone, there's no point in wasting your hope that things might turn out okay.
In this instance, however, I thought it worked really well.
Paul Morris wakes up in the middle of the night, ruminating on something that has happened in his life. It's dark and disorienting, throwing you straight into the action. His voice is established within the first few paragraphs - he's a strong character, and you know exactly what motivates him within a couple of pages.
Paul Morris is the definition of a bachelor. He's always on the lookout for his next conquest, which is how he ends up going to the book store in Charing Cross: he sees a young redhead through the window, and decides to try his luck.
He strikes out. He's embarrassed: how dare she not want him? He looks good for 42. He's a published author, a Cambridge graduate. A catch.
When he bumps into old school friend Andrew, he's distracted. Andrew asks for his number to arrange a lunch and he gives it to him, wondering if the redhead behind the desk will be surrepititiously writing it down now she knows how successful he is. He doesn't want Andrew to contact him, and decides he'll decline the call when it arrives.
He lets his guard down, though, hoping to hear from a journalism student who wanted to wrack his brains for advice. Next thing he knows he's booked in that lunch date with Andrew and he's travelling across London and back into his past.
Arriving at Andrew's house, he meets Alice. He can't remember, but they've met before: ten years ago, when they were both on holiday in Greece. Alice and Andrew have a yearly pilgrimage back, taking both of their families on holiday to a villa that Alice owns: one that they won't be able to visit again, as developers are tearing up the property to clear the way for a new hotel complex.
Alice is on a mission. Ten years ago, when they were all in Greece, a young girl named Jasmine vanished. She feels personally involved, as she was there to comfort Jasmine's mother in the hours directly following her disappearance, and she's been campaigning for the last decade to get the Greek police to do more to find Jasmine, who she's convinced must still be alive.
She's too old for Paul, but her drive turns him on. She has a villa in Greece, a huge house... She has a lot of money, and he's about to lose the place he's been living. He decides to seduce her, then when her daughter Phoebe goes to university he's hoping she'll invite him to lodge in the spare room.
Their romance is a whirlwind one. Alice seems unconvinced to start with, inviting Paul to Greece and then refusing to mention the offer again despite his hints, but he pushes into her affections until he finally seems to have her under his spell. He gets the invitation to Greece, and he's certain he'll be able to move straight in as soon as they get back. Easy.
But Paul starts to wonder if something's going on between Alice and Andrew. The long, lingering looks between them make him uncomfortable, and when he finds condoms in Andrew's bag he takes them, hoping he can stop the affair in its tracks. Then there's a rape on the island, and Alice and Andrew collude to cover up the potential involvement of Alice's son, bringing them closer and making Paul feel as though he's being pushed out...
Paul just wants her to trust him and open up to him, but she won't. He doesn't think it's fair: he's doing everything he can, granting her every wish, but she still seems to favour Andrew. He feels like he has to lie to her constantly, because she believes he has more money than he does - he wants her to have a high opinion of him, and is afraid that if she knows he's broke she'll no longer be interested. Keeping up with all of the falsehoods he's weaving is exhausting, and she still doesn't seem to care for him as much as he does for her.
Their beautiful getaway isn't really a holiday. Alice is so focused on the Finding Jasmine campaign that she barely has time for him, and tensions are rising between him and Andrew. The teenagers aren't making things easier: Louis is moody and uncooperative, while Phoebe and Daisy are constantly flaunting their bikini bodies.With family drama at the forefront of his mind, Paul can hardly relax at their villa, especially with the constant droning of the diggers working ever closer to Alice's property line.
The first third of the book is achingly slow, but as soon as Paul gets to Greece the tension becomes unbearable.
I will admit, I almost gave up a few times towards the beginning. Paul is arrogant, and reading the story from the viewpoint of a man with such an inflated ego is exhausting. He thinks he's so clever, lying at every possible opportunity, but that gave me secondhand embarrassment. It was obvious that he was going to get caught out. That's the moral of this story: even the smallest lies catch up with you.
His constant scheming to get invited to Greece is also tiring. If he didn't get to go to Greece their would be no story, so all of the chapters where he's hinting his interest are unnecessary. He's so needy, refusing to outwardly ask if he can go, just desperately trying to manipulate her into wanting him there. I hate men who treat women as though they're less intelligent. Paul is one of those people who only sees women for their bodies, rather than for their minds. He's not attracted to Phoebe, Alice's teenage daughter, because she has badly dyed hair, so when she asks him about journalism he's dismissive and uninterested.
If you haven't guessed, Paul is a hateful man. That's the point; because you know that bad things are coming to this irritating character, you're eager to see him experience his downfall. That's not to say that you'll celebrate it when it eventually happens, though. Sabine Durrant knows how to manipulate her reader's emotions, meaning that you care for characters you previously hated and despite those you thought you loved.
Bear with it. If you're hoping to read a thriller that is relentless in its intensity then this is not the book for you (but I'm going to be featuring one like that next week, so stay tuned!). Be patient: it pays off.
Sabine's descriptions of Greece are delightful. It was raining every day I read this book, but I could feel the heat emanating from the pages and warming my soul, making me desperate for summer to hurry up and arrive. This is the perfect holiday read, so if you're going anywhere nice any time soon keep this book in mind.
After you get through the dragging establishing chapters the book is a very quick read, becoming almost impossible to put down. There are subtle clues sprinkled throughout the story, but until you know exactly what happened it's difficult to pick up on them. As soon as you know everything makes sense - you can feel that last piece of the jigsaw puzzle snap into place, clearing the meaning that has been obscured throughout.
It takes a very clever writer to create a story like this. The way that everything gets twisted to have a different meaning is mind-blowing, and if it hadn't been for the way that Sabine neatly tied up the loose ends and explained everything that had happened throughout, this would have been an instant reread for me.
I'm not going to give spoilers, because this isn't a book that would be easy to enjoy if you knew what was going to happen. All I can ask you to do is to give it a chance. If I hadn't been reading this for a blog tour I would have given up, and after seeing how it all ends that would have been a huge mistake.
I haven't read any of Sabine Durrant's novels before, but after this I'm craving more of her writing. Her characters are very authentic, and the way she weaves her plot is astounding. It's been a long time since I've read a novel with an antihero protagonist, and this is making me want to read books about hateful people - something I normally dislike doing.
Also, just look at how gorgeous the cover is. How can you resist a book that beautiful?