Lies She Told

Cate Holahan's third novel, Lies She Told, refreshes what has become standard fare in the psychological thriller genre with her use of "meta" moral ambiguities.

Liza Cole is desperate for a baby and to write a bestselling book, while her husband is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. To escape the tension in her marriage, Liza focuses on the life of her new protagonist, Beth. This character kills her husband's mistress in a fit of jealous rage. When Nick's body is pulled from the same river where Beth stashed her victim's body, Liza must consider how well she knows the people closest to her--and herself. 

Holahan doles out essential elements of the domestic thriller with style. Liza is an eerie antiheroine, and her instability is well rendered as both tragic and terrifying. Even more impressive, the novel is impeccably paced, despite balancing two competing narratives, Liza's and Beth's. But this story's greatest strength lies in Holahan's ability to understand the genre she is embodying and comment on its blind spots. As a writer of romantic suspense, Liza's narration is uncannily aware of her story's biases and pulp-ish nature, highlighting the marginalized groups the genre often either ignores or fetishizes. Holahan's gripping, commercial storytelling slips this self-reflective examination into what is first and foremost a compelling thriller, allowing Lies She Told to be both indicative of a genre and outstanding in its field. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

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