Melinda’s review of The Better Liar by Tanen Jones—this book came out on Jan 14 and we received an early copy from Netgalley. Most importantly, THIS IS MY LAST REVIEW FOR TWO! We were thrilled to welcome baby R into the world on 1/21/20.
Trigger warnings: postpartum depression, suicide
What I drank prior: An iced coffee (or two). As I’m sure you know or have heard, babies keep you really awake.
When a woman conceals her sister’s death to claim their joint inheritance, her deception exposes a web of dangerous secrets in this addictive new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.
“Like most of the dead, I want to be remembered.”
Robin Voigt is dead. If Leslie had arrived at her sister’s cramped Las Vegas apartment just hours earlier, this would have been their first reunion in a decade. In the years since Robin ran away from home as a teenager, Leslie has stayed in New Mexico, taking care of their dying father even as she began building a family of her own. But when their father passed away, Leslie received a rude awakening: She and Robin would receive the inheritance he left them together—or not at all. Now her half of the money may be beyond her grasp. And unbeknownst to anyone, even her husband, Leslie needs it desperately.
When she meets a charismatic young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin—and has every reason to leave her past behind—the two make a reckless bargain: Mary will impersonate Robin for a week in exchange for Robin’s half of the cash. But neither realizes how high the stakes will become when Mary takes a dead woman’s name. Even as Mary begins to suspect Leslie is hiding something, and Leslie realizes the stranger living in her house, babysitting her newborn son, and charming her husband has secrets of her own, Robin’s wild, troubled legacy threatens to eclipse them both.
An electric, twisted portrait of sisterhood and the ties that bind, The Better Liar is a stunning debut with a heart-stopping, twist-after-twist finale that will beg the question: How far would you go to get what’s yours?
My Summary: The ‘good’ sister is tracking down her younger sister who ran away when she was 16 and who she hasn’t spoken to in over a decade to secure her inheritance after her father passes. The catch? She’s already dead when she finds her, which would forfeit her half of the money that she desperately needs. When she thinks she finds the solution in a stranger, it starts to unravel the string of events that led them here and how they’ll move forward.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: Dude let’s just say I have mixed feelings on reading it right now only two days postpartum, but I think overall it’s a good thing? At least it got me thinking. Maybe would have appreciated more a bit later, but is what it is. Honestly added an extra half star based on the author’s note—in my mind, her message really got across. She said it’s a nightmare based in a real fear, and boy is it.
Characters: I think part of my hesitancy is that I didn’t like any of the main characters, but I don’t think we’re meant to. I found Leslie, the living sister, frustrating because she didn’t seem to know what she wanted or how to get it. Robin, the deceased sister, was just confusing and did not seem like a reliable narrator. And, finally, Mary just seemed super shady. Like, get your money, girl, why are you digging into stuff here? David seemed shady, too. I guess I liked Nancy, too, but only to a certain extent based on her actions. The pieces fit though.
Plot: No bones about it, this is DARK. From the moment you meet Leslie, you know things aren’t as simple as they seem. And the hits just keep coming. Like noted above, nightmarish, especially for a two-days-in first-time mom. Moved along nicely though—didn’t want to put it down.
Writing Style: The chapters are split between Leslie and Mary’s perspectives in the present and Robin’s perspective in the past. I enjoyed hearing from all three of them to piece the story and the missing pieces together as opposed to hearing from just one of them.
Boozie Pairing: Cabernet, full stop.
Rating: 4/5 shots
Signing off for baby cuddles xx
If you are experiencing signs of postpartum depression or suicidal thoughts, call The National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-8255.