Lie With Me
by Sabine Durrant
In the world and in people, both good and evil reside, but what elements lead to the shifting of a person to favor one over the other? Is a person all good, or all evil? What really lies beneath the facades that are built up every day and over years of time? Is it pure honesty, or is that just wishful thinking? And what secrets are kept hidden, secrets that help to mold a person’s very existence like so much clay and water?
Paul has spent the entirety of his life searching for the easy way out. Some would call him lazy, but Paul prefers the term “opportunistic.” Since the (surprising, in all honesty) moderate success of his first novel more than 20 years ago, Paul has eked out a suitable existence. The riding of the literary coattails of his book and the connections it afforded him has allowed Paul a certain level of begrudged respect and influence in the circle he runs in. Readily armed with charisma and charm and rugged good looks, he has gotten by without working a steady job, and that is fortunate considering that since his initial breakthrough as an author . . . there has been nothing worth putting from pen to paper.
He has relied on his friends and acquaintances to see him through. And his mother has been invaluable, but glaringly unappreciated. A loan of cash here. A free room in a flat in the heart of London, there. Paul is the definition of a free lunch. But what he has forgotten is that no good deed goes unpunished, and he will soon find himself in over his head.
The meeting of an old schoolmate was strictly by chance, and Paul didn’t even want to accept the dinner invitation forced upon him. The prospect of trekking it all the way to the other side of town was only cushioned by the promise of a fancy meal and the lure of a good bottle of wine. But he was surprised by his evening. Richard and his wife seemed to actually enjoy his company, despite the fact that Paul was so glaringly snobbish, arrogant, and full of obviously put-upon self-deprecations. And then there was the unexpected novelty of Alice.
She reminded him of their first meeting, years ago during school. A second meeting that he doesn’t remember in Greece; but of course he wouldn’t remember that particular exchange, as it was heavily lubricated by alcohol and juvenile debauchery.
There’s something about Alice; the whisper of a mystery and a subtle sexuality amongst the curve of her hips. Paul sets his sights upon her in his typical womanizing fashion as someone to conquer, but he also sees her as an opportunity. Alice is a rich widow with grown children, her company is tolerable and even sometimes a pleasure, and she has a fantastic vacation retreat in Greece. As his luck is running out with one friend and he’ll be forced to vacate the flat he’s currently freeloading in, Paul senses the tides changing in his favor, yet again.
After expending every ounce of charm and guise he can muster, Paul earns himself a coveted spot on holiday with Alice, Richard, and their respective families. He can’t wait to extend his life of living in luxury by planting himself firmly in a chaise lounge overlooking the sea, a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other – all with sweet Alice footing the bill. Paul’s biggest secret is that he insecure about his every ability, or lack thereof, besides that of being able to have his way with women. Manipulation is his only real talent, and he knows it. Paul is lonely and afraid of responsibility, certain he could never achieve the level of station in life he truly believes he deserves on his own. This is what makes Alice so very valuable; she is his counterpart in loneliness, and despite Richard’s repeated attempts at undermining their budding relationship, Paul sees Alice as his future.
But Alice has secrets of her own. The disappearance of a girl during her trip to Greece all those years ago (coincidentally the same time she saw Paul literally falling around drunk out of his mind) has continually haunted her since. Jasmine, a bright-eyed blonde with her entire life in front of her went missing in an instant; the 14-year old vanished without a trace. Pyros being a port city with Albania close by, authorities were convinced that the girl either left on her own accord or was lost into the underworld of prostitution and human trafficking. But Alice has never stopped looking. She’s made it the shining star of her life’s work, setting up a profitable charity and spending year after year returning to the city of Pyros and her vacation home to question the authorities on their progress and personally distribute flyers and information. Where did Jasmine end up? Where is she now? Dead or alive?
Paul will watch in horror as the world he thought he built with such cleverness begins to fall apart around him, breaking into pieces and shattering like glass. Readers will enjoy watching Paul get what he deserves – or will they? When Alice invited Paul to lie with her, what sort of bed of deceit did they build? It all comes together in a rather dramatic end, with the missing case of Jasmine solved for good complete with the end of an era.
Lie With Me is the newest novel by Sabine Durrant, an author best known for her gripping psychological thrillers. Written with a hand attentive to detail, Durrant has woven a story lacing lies with the truth, all while creating a vividly dirty portrait of human instinct and raw character.
I was so torn by this novel. I try not to write my reviews as soon as I finish a book because I like to allow things to marinate; this way of doing things often leads me to a different opinion of a book than the one I had when I closed the final page. This is definitely the case in Lie With Me.
I began truly intrigued. I knew from other reviews that I’d read that this would be a slow moving thriller, so I was prepared for the layering and character description. Or so I thought.
The novel really didn’t take off until the last 3/4 and by then, I was a bit put off by Paul and his continued bad behavior. He is completely unapologetic in his atrocity, and it is so off-putting that I don’t find myself compelled to feel the least bit sorry for him when the other characters begin to openly treat him like utter garbage. The complete character profile of Paul was saturated with filth and his pathetic attempts at endearing himself were both disgusting and embarrassing.
But therein lay the brilliance. Durrant spent page after page building Paul’s character and hammering lack of integrity with these tiny little tidbits of gross, all while shaping the poignant relationships around him. The plot was layer upon layer, a mystery wrapped inside a riddle and all of that. You thought you were reading one story when instead, you were reading something completely different. And the way the bubble closed in around Paul near the close was so palpable that it gave me actual goosebumps.
And in the end, yes, I did feel sorry for the bastard.
I finally figured out the mystery surrounding Jasmine’s disappearance – albeit mere seconds before it was expertly – yet so simply – revealed, but even then, I had not prepared myself for the complexity with which things went down. To say this novel played the long game is an understatement, and I have to admit something . . . that while I turned page after page of the first half of the book, wondering what the point was in half of it, I began to see all of the puzzle pieces click into place in the as last quarter of the book played out. It ended in a way that was nothing less than pure genius.
So with all that said, I give the book a solid 4 stars. If you’d asked me halfway through, I would have cut that number in half – easily. But after finishing it and letting it all sink in, I have to give credit where credit is due. This book is not long, it is an easy read, so it is worth the build up.
Ultimately, I do recommend it. Lie With Me would make a great beach-side or road trip read.