Book Review: Lies by T.M. Logan
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (September 11, 2018)
Length: 418 pages
Unassuming Joe Lynch might not be the most successful or most ambitious among his circle of friends, but he’s happy—he’s got a good job teaching at a prestigious school, he’s married to a woman he loves with all his heart, and together they have a beautiful young son. Like most people, Joe has sometimes wondered if life could be more, but for the most part, he feels fulfilled. Things are as perfect as they can be.
Until one day, while driving home from work after picking up his son William from school, he spots his wife Mel’s car on the road and decides to follow her and surprise her on a whim. To his surprise though, Mel pulls up to a hotel and Joe watches her meet up with Ben, a family friend, to engage in what looks to be a serious argument. Concerned, Joe decides to privately confront Ben in the hotel parking garage afterwards to find out what was going on. What he didn’t expect was for the other man to get violent, forcing Joe to defend himself against the physical attack. In the scuffle, Ben is accidently pushed hard to the ground, knocked unconscious. William, who witnesses the entire fight, is shocked into an asthma attack, leaving Joe no choice but to leave the scene in order to get his son some medical attention.
After taking care of William though, Joe makes sure to follow up on Ben, only to find that the other man has disappeared without a trace. At around the same time, Joe discovers that his Facebook account has been hacked, when messages that he did not write begin appearing on his personal feed. When asked about her meeting with Ben, Mel denies everything at first, only to spill the whole truth once she realizes how much Joe actually knows. These new revelations threaten to tear our protagonist’s whole world apart, but things only get worse as the police start investigating him in connection to Ben’s disappearance.
Lies was a solidly entertaining thriller, though I did have to check not long after I started the book to confirm a sneaking suspicion: yes, it was a debut novel for author T.M. Logan. On the whole, this story was well-written and tightly plotted, though once in a while a few minor irritants would worm their way into my mind and interfere with the immersion. Many of these complaints had to do with pacing, and just an overall sense that something with regards to the premise’s logic feels…off. For one thing, it all just felt a tad implausible, requiring a number of coincidences and improbable events and oversights to occur for it to all make sense. Some of the explanations also felt superfluous and repetitive, an issue which might even be worse for readers who are technologically-minded. It made the story feel somewhat messy and disjointed.
I also had difficulty relating to the protagonist. That being said, Joe wasn’t an unlikeable character—far from it, in fact. A hard worker, a loving husband, a kind and dedicated father, he’s everything a standup guy should be. I very much wanted to like him and root for him, but the problem was, he made it so damned hard. For one thing, he’s incredibly naïve. It’s hard to believe this is a man who makes his living teaching and yet fails to realize when the answers are staring him in the face. He’s also prone to emotional manipulation and is way too trusting and forgiving. At times he would seem like a whiz at technology, knowing exactly how to cover his tracks; at others he would seem completely ignorant of the ins-and-outs of social media. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Joe because he was so out of his league and being played so hard, not to mention there’s nothing like watching a man being framed for murder to bring out that righteous indignation. At the same time though, I just plain didn’t get him.
Still, criticisms aside, throughout the reading of this novel, I can honestly say I was never bored. Yes, some of its individual parts need work—but in spite of this, I can see how it has everything to be a successful thriller, including the elements of suspense, secrets and lies. While I took issue with some of the characterization and found the story to be a little on the unbelievable and implausible side, it doesn’t really pay to overthink these flaws. Lies is a book best experienced by letting yourself go with the flow, and to its credit, there’s plenty to make up for the feelings of skepticism and frustrations that might stem from the plot’s predictability or the naivete of the protagonist.
Sometimes you have to suspend your disbelief in order to enjoy yourself, and ultimately this was how I approached Lies. Like a lot of debuts, this novel could have used a bit of polish, but nevertheless it delivered quality entertainment.