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Posted by on 5 Mar, 2024 in Crime | 0 comments



Listen For The Lie by Amy Tintera (Bantam, 5 March 2024)

A combination of podcasts, small towns, old crimes and unreliable narrators, has been popping up a lot in recent crime fiction releases, but few have done it as well as Amy Tintera in her debut adult crime novel, Listen For The Lie (Bantam, 5 March 2024).

Five years ago, Lucy was found wandering the back streets in a small Texas town with a head wound, and covered in dirt and her best friend Savvy’s blood. Everyone was quick to assume that she murdered Savvy (Savannah), but the police could not find enough evidence to convict her and Lucy can’t remember anything about that night. Her own parents, and nearly the whole local community, thought that she was lying about the amnesia, but were stymied by the lack of evidence and a murder weapon. Once she was released, Lucy quickly escaped to Los Angeles, but now the phenomenally huge hit true crime podcast “Listen for the Lie,” host Ben Owens, has decided to investigate Savvy’s murder for the show’s second season. Lucy reluctantly returns home for her grandma’s birthday and finds herself caught up in the circus surrounding the podcast. As Ben’s podcast uncovers revelation after revelation, will Lucy finally discover what happened that night, or does she already know?

This is a terrific, edgy crime novel with a modern feel to it and a quirky set of characters. Despite the seriousness of the events in it, there is a wickedly humorous tone to the book, as set by the opening line:

“A podcaster has decided to ruin my life, so I’m buying a chicken.”

The rest of the book unfolds in the same style, with plenty of twists and turns and a mounting sense of anticipation around what the outcome will be. The telling alternates between Lucy’s point of view and memories, and extracts from the podcast, which quickly introduce the main characters and recap what happened on the night of the murder. The podcast extracts help to keep the story moving at a brisk rate, and Lucy’s reflections add lots of sarcasm and flashes of humour. There is also poignancy around what happened, and the sadness of Lucy’s past and present circumstances.

I really enjoyed Listen For The Lie, but there are elements that may be off-putting to others. Firstly, apart from Grandma Beverley, none of the characters are particularly likeable. Even when Lucy is not having homicidal thoughts -“I imagine closing the window, trapping his neck, hitting the gas, and dragging him down the street” – she is not particularly pleasant. She is funny, but the sarcasm does become wearing, and she makes so many bad decisions. Savvy is present as a guiding voice in Lucy’s head, and in the flesh in flashbacks, but again she is not without her flaws. And the rest of the town is a mess of domestic abuse and infidelity.

I thought that the pacing was really good, but there is not a lot of action. Lucy’s snap-fire narration and the short, sharp interviews of the podcast drive the book along at a brisk rate, but not a lot happens until the surprising finale. There are also some plot holes, but to be honest I was to busy turning the pages to care.

Finally, those triggered by domestic violence and abusive relationships need to take care.

Overall, I liked the wit and breezy tone of the book and the frequent surprises kept me keenly reading all the way through. A strong, quirky debut.

Listen For The Lie is released on 5 March 2024 in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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