TELL ME LIES by J. P. Pomare (Hachette, 29 December 2020)
I think that 2020 has been an exceptional year for Australian crime fiction. All the regular contributors to the genre produced compelling novels, especially Garry Disher and Michael Robotham, and others, such as Katherine Kovacic and Megan Goldin, seemed to step up to a new higher level. There were also some outstanding debuts, particularly by Kyle Perry and Gabriel Bergmoser, and at least one interesting change in direction by an established author. Now on the cusp of a new year, we have another strong novel, this time by Kiwi, and Australian resident, J. P. Pomare.
Pomare’s first two novels, Call Me Evie and In The Clearing, drew considerable critical acclaim and Call Me Evie won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. They established him as an author to watch out for and now he has produced further evidence of his crime writing skills with Tell Me Lies.
Tell Me Lies apparently started life as an Audible Original, but has now been made available in book form. Set in Melbourne, it opens with a horrific incident at a train station, before backtracking to explore the events that led up to it. The focus of the story is psychologist Margot Scott who lives a seemingly pleasant life in the suburbs with her husband and two children. The easy flow of her life is disrupted when she takes on a new client, the enigmatic Cormac Gibbons. Margot knows that he is lying to her, but then all her clients do. What she does not know is whether he is behind an escalating series of worrying events, or whether it is one of her other clients. As things unravel she begins to even question aspects of her own past.
Tell Me Lies is a nicely paced psychological thriller, with a good rhythm to the story telling and a subtly increasing sense of unease. The back and forth between Margot and her clients would have worked well as an Audible book, and in written form it engages the reader and keeps them interested. The conversations are nicely balanced by Margot’s increasing sense of anxiety and a series of events give urgency to the story.
The characters are well crafted and Pomare effectively uses his Melbourne backdrop to ground the story. The pacing increases as the story progresses and Pomare produces some good twists, including one that took me totally by surprise, along the way to the dark and thoughtful conclusion.
Tell Me Lies is a really enjoyable and clever thriller that will keep you keenly turning the pages all the way to the end. It is less than 250 pages long and is a great read for the holiday period. At the back of the book there is also an enticing and intriguing extract from Pomare’s next novel, The Last Guests, which is due out in August 2021.
A strong four stars out of five!
Tell Me Lies will be released in book form in Australia on 29 December 2020. It seems to be only available as an Audible Original in the United Kingdom. It is also available as an Audible Original in the United States and will be released there as a Kindle book on 29 December 2020.
Thanks to Hachette and the Canberra Weekly for an advanced copy of the book.