Monday, December 1, 2014

The Truth-Teller's Lie by Sophie Hannah


As psychological thrillers go, The Truth-Teller's Lie (also published as Hurting Distance) by British author Sophie Hannah is a humdinger. I read the 2010 reprint edition from Penguin Books.

Naomi Jenkins meets married lorry driver Robert Haworth each Thursday in Room 11 of the same seedy motel. Robert tells Naomi that he plans to leave his wife for her. When he doesn't show up for their next meeting, Naomi knows something is wrong and tells the police. She drives to Robert's house in desperation and peeks in the downstairs window. Naomi sees something, although later she can't recall what, but it causes her to have a severe panic attack.

When she feels the police aren't taking Robert's disappearance seriously, Naomi goes back to the police, accuses Robert of something heinous and writes a detailed statement. Naomi knows the details well, but Robert wasn't the one involved in what happened to her on that horrible night three years ago. In fact, no one close to her knows what happened.

Naomi has the attention of the police, but the detectives on the case figure out she's lying. Police Sergeant Charlie Zailer discovers that the events Naomi described did happen and that there are other victims who've had a similar experience. What follows is an investigation full of twists and turns and harrowing events where nothing is a coincidence.

Part of the story is told from Naomi's point of view in a letter to Robert, but it doesn't take long to see that she's not a reliable narrator. We also see the story from Charlie's point of view. She's a flawed individual but an excellent detective who supervises a group of men. Charlie's in love with one of the detectives, Simon Waterhouse, but it appears to be a one-sided kind of thing on her part. 

The Truth-Teller's Lie is the best psychological thriller I've read in quite some time, and the way the plot is constructed is superb. It's a very dark story but one I couldn't put down. The stunning ending was not what I expected.

In reading about the book, I discovered that The Truth-Teller's Lie is the second in a series of psychological crime fiction featuring Zailer and Waterhouse. I'm excited about this and look forward to reading more by Sophie Hannah.

If you've read The Truth-Teller's Lie, I'd like to know your thoughts.

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