Three words: “I need you.”
How far would you go for your childhood friends? That’s the premise of Ruth Ware’s third novel, The Lying Game, and I loved her first two, In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10.
Isa receives that text from her friend Kate and drops everything (except her baby Freya) to head back to Salten. She knows their other two friends Fatima and Thea will be on their way. The four girls went to boarding school together at Salten House, and spent weekends at Kate’s home, The Old Mill. At Salten House the girls were not well liked, probably because they had created The Lying Game, where they awarded each other points for telling believable lies to classmates and teachers. I wouldn’t have liked them either.
One of their lies (a big one) brings them all back 15 years later to the weary and sinking Old Mill where Kate still lives alone with her dog. We hear the story from Isa’s point of view who is rarely without her baby. Ware spends a lot of time on the baby and Isa’s experience with new motherhood which I thought was interesting for a couple of reasons. It kept Isa grounded in the present but it also increased the stakes. Every suspenseful or dangerous situation was more intense because Freya was in the mix. Isa has a lot to lose and Freya was a constant reminder of that.
Kate’s family is at the center of the mystery and I won’t give too many details here because I really enjoyed learning about Kate’s family, her father Ambrose, her step brother Luc and the issues they all grappled with as the story unfolded.
The Lying Game is a well written mystery that builds with strong character development and a good ending. The beginning of the book was a bit slow for me but once I got about halfway through the pace (or my interest level) picked up considerably. The Lying Game is dramatic and dark, and Ware’s writing made the setting and the characters very real. For me this wasn’t an edge of your seat thriller, but rather an intriguing story of deception and sacrifice that will have you questioning everything until the end. Read it!
Best paired with a few glasses of wine and some fish and chips!