One little secret between a married woman, her lover, and a killer.
It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.
After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?
An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair….
Hi and welcome to my review of The Lying Room!
Truth be told, I’m not sure what to make of this one, let alone what to tell you about it. On the one hand, it’s a clever psychological thriller with a culprit I never suspected, on the other hand, though I appreciated and enjoyed the story, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. This is not my first Nicci French, although it’s been quite a while, and I’d been looking forward to being reunited with the authors who sparked my initial love for psychological thrillers sometime in the 90s. This book though? It fell a little flat…
I think the main buzzkill for me was the fact that I didn’t like any of the characters. I didn’t hate them either (to me, hating a character is just as good as loving them). I just found them annoying. Seriously, every one of them, especially the main character Neve, who we are supposed to like, I think, and feel for, but I could not, and believe me I tried. So what happens is that Neve is cheating on her husband, has been for a while, and she goes and visits her lover, who is also her boss by the way, and finds him in his apartment with his skull bashed in. Okay, please take a moment to take in that scene. Apart from the fact that I don’t see myself cheating on my husband, let alone with my boss, I do believe my first reaction in this situation would be to call the police. Yes, the cat would be out of the bag, everyone would know I’d been cheating, but at least the police would have a fair chance to apprehend the killer. Not Neve though, oh no. Her first reaction is to clean the entire apartment, lest the police find evidence of their affair. Sigh. How on earth anyone can find it in them to make a place spick-and-span while their dead lover whom they claim to love is but centimetres away, is beyond me. But okay, sure, I forgave her for this lapse of judgement, after all people in dire straits have been known to do funny things and I was ready to let it go, to move on, to let bygones be bygones. Until Neve goes home and remembers that she’s left something behind. Naturally she has to go back for it. Oh but where is her key? Oh there it is! Oh but she can’t find the thing she left behind! Oh and the murder weapon is gone too! This marked the start of a story that felt too farcical at times for me to enjoy it properly. There were too many moments of me thinking oh yeah naturally and rolling my eyes. I have no problems suspending disbelief, it’s fiction after all, but Neve never felt real to me, and neither did the other characters. They remained just that, characters. Between the old friends from uni who are suddenly there and seem to never want to leave anymore, every single colleague having issues that they need Neve to solve, the widow seeking out Neve for no apparent reason, and DCI Hitching showing up literally everywhere like a modern-day Colombo with better dress sense, I never believed any of it. We are constantly told that Neve is a saviour and so popular and loved but I never bought it.
All whinging aside, I did remain invested enough to want to find out who the killer was and how it all tied back to Neve. I don’t regret reading The Lying Room, it was certainly an okay read, it’s just that I’ve read better ones this year.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.