Tell Me Lies, J.P. Pomare
It increasingly feels like the things you can be guaranteed of when starting a new book by J.P. Pomare are it's going to be a fast paced, high tension thriller; it's likely as not going to frighten the daylights out of you; and it's going to be littered with twists, turns, red herrings, misguidance, clues and hints. Despite that, they have all been very different novels indeed.
TELL ME LIES is his third, focusing in on Margot Scott, a registered psychologist with what seems to be everything - a successful practice, wonderful family life, solid and loving marriage, supportive husband. Until everything changes, and her sense of security, safety, everything she's understood to be part of her life, is thrown into chaos. Courtesy of a patient - or so it seems. What starts out feeling like it could possibly be a delusion on the part of Margot, quickly becomes a complicated story of past mistakes, lies, cover-ups and threats. Or is it really just delusion?
Using a protagonist who is a psychologist, somebody so used to helping others understand their lives, is an interesting approach as she's forced into the position of having to confront her own misgivings, mistakes, hidden tensions and messy past. In a shortish novel (around 257 pages - originally released as an audio book), Pomare has created a compulsive, edgy narrative that is sometimes shocking, sometimes worrying, and definitely gripping.
It's hard to tell if it's an artefact of the lesser word count, or by design, by there's something slightly shadowy and hidden about Margot Scott, That works perfectly in terms of knowing whether or not she's right about the source of external threat, or if even, as I wondered at one point, if some of this was self-inflicted. She's hard to get inside the head of. Combined with some of the themes of mental illness, blackmail, family and societal expectations, the complications of relationships and the world of social media, the reader is wrong-footed a lot. Whether or not Scott is feeling the same is never really as clear as you might think it is.
Mind you, nothing is as clear as you think it is right up to the very end. You are likely to get to that end pretty darn quickly though - TELL ME LIES is compulsive, explosive, fascinating psychological thriller territory.
Margot’s clients all lie to her, but one lie could cost her family and freedom.
Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children, and a successful career. On a warm spring morning, Margot spots one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train. Suddenly, one tragedy leads to another leaving her, her family, and her patients in danger. As misfortune unfolds, listeners will soon question Margot’s true role in all of these unfortunate events.