Ruth Ware’s third novel, The Lying Game, is likely proof that she’s here to stay. On the heels of A Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, she’s etching her name on the list of top-tier modern day thriller writers.
To me, though, this book was a bit of a departure from the focused mystery of her first two books. In The Lying Game, she really hit her mark as a skilled prose writer. Her descriptions of people, places, and relationships were deep and lusty.
The story revolves around four women in their thirties who bonded in prep school. The creation of what they thought would be a harmless bit of fun, the “lying game,” brought them closer together in school and ultimately tied them together for life.
Inseparable as teenagers, almost every weekend while in school, the girls retreated to Kate’s childhood home, The Mill, which was within walking distance. Mysterious and alluring, access to The Mill required crossing The Reach, a fickle waterway that surges dangerously in and out daily with the tide. Ware soars in her descriptions of both places as they almost become characters in the book.
After abruptly leaving school half way through their senior year, all of the women moved out and on with their lives, except Kate, who stayed on at the Mill. But after she sends the other three an urgent text, they all converge on the Mill as adults where they are forced to revisit their cavalier game and foolish actions from the past; and to address very real threats in the present. The narrator, Isa, travels there with her infant, Freya, and here again, Ware, through her writing, captures the sweet and ferocious bond between mother and child.
While there is murder and some mayhem in this book, to me, the mystery wasn’t as compelling as in Ware’s first two novels. Further, there are some inexplicable gaps in the story such as why, after demonstrating her iron like bond with Freya, Isa stays on at the Mill when clearly it is not safe. But the strength of this book lies in the writing. Instead of turning pages as quickly as possible to get to the ‘ah ha’ at the end, I found myself savoring her words on the page.
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Elizabeth's rating: 3 ½ stars