This book is more akin to Disclaimer than Gone Girl in my opinion, because the main protagonist is so unlikeable, right from the start, and yet you cannot put the book down until you know how it is going to end.
It starts with a lie. The kind we’ve all told – to a former acquaintance we can’t quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you’re having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday – swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of…
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you’re trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you – by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it’s the lies that cause the real damage…
… well, by then, it could just be too late.
Paul is a middle aged failed writer who believes himself to be god’s gift to women. He seriously thinks he is irresistible. He’s a bit of a dodgy dealer, usually getting by with help from friends. His first novel had minor success, his subsequent novels not so much. He hasn’t had anything published in years, and is house sitting for a friend who travels a lot. Of course he passes off the lovely, eclecticly (it’s a word, honest) decorated flat as his own.
When pathetically trying to chat up an uninterested young woman at a second hand book store, Paul runs into Andrew, an old friend from University and the brother of one of his many “conquests”, who invites him over for dinner one night. Paul dislikes Andrew, finding him pompous, self satisfied and boring, yet can’t help trying to impress him by exaggerating his success. Andrew is a partner at a law firm now with a big house, a wife and 2 children.
After being kicked out if his flat when his friend returns from abroad Paul moves back in with his mother. He decides to go to Andrews dinner party, even though he dislikes him, because it’s free food and wine. Paul usually goes for (much) younger women, but finds himself drawn to Alice who is a successful lawyer, widow and a loving mother, even though he thinks she is much too old for him. They’re around the same age – I thinks she’s two years younger than him?? The arrogance of the man. It turns out that they had met 10 years ago in Greece, when a young girl went missing. Paul was plastered and behaving rather badly at the time, so he doesn’t really remember, but he latches on to Alice in the hope that his money troubles are solved.
Alice and Paul begin a relationship, and he finds himself starting to like her for real, rather than as a meal ticket, and is desperate for her to invite him along to the joint holiday in Greece both Alice and Andrew’s families go on each year. What Paul doesn’t know is that this holiday will be his undoing.
This book was gripping and Paul’s behaviour utterly fascinating. He cannot stop lying. He steals money and objects he finds lying around in other people’s houses. He blatantly perves on the teenage daughters of his friend and girlfriend. I found myself wanting him to get into trouble all through the book. The ending was well thought out, and the clues were there from the beginning about what was really going on.
Lie With Me is now available in paperback from Mulholland (Hodder) Books at £7.99.
Let me know if you will be picking up this or any other thriller for your summer read!