It starts with a lie. The kind we’ve all told – to a former acquaintance we can’t quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you’re having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday – swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of…
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you’re trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you – by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it’s the lies that cause the real damage…
… well, by then, it could just be too late.
There are some books that you just know are going to be terrific from the opening pages. Lie With Me is one of those exceptional reads. From early on I could visualise these characters (this would make a great film) and slipped so easily into the world that Durrant has created for them.
Paul Morris is an ageing, louche character. He trades on his good looks and easy charm; getting by through leeching off his friends and acquaintances. In his twenties, he wrote a book that garnered decent reviews and he’s been trying to live off his reputation as an author since then, though many years have passed without his being published again.
Living in a friend’s flat and living hand to mouth, he is kept going by the kindness and sometimes condescension of others. Living this sort of life does require guile and often the moulding and bending of the truth. So when Paul meets Alice, he does all he can to hide his circumstances from her.
Alice is a friend of an old acquaintance, Andrew Hopkins. Paul knew Andrew from a Greek holiday years before and had dallied with his sister, Florrie when at Cambridge. Alice is a widow and family friend of the Hopkins. She’s a lawyer and involved in a number of women’s campaigns – and is hardly Paul’s type. Nonetheless, he is drawn to her, though whether that is because she has a large house and a decent income or just because he feels comfortable with her is unclear.
What is clear, though, is that he is determined to make a relationship with Alice work and so, when she tells him that she is taking her family and the Hopkins’ to her holiday home in Greece for one last holiday before the house is sold to developers, he tries all his manoeuvres to ensure that he, too, is invited.
Ten years ago, a girl went missing on the Greek island and true to form, Alice runs the ‘Finding Jasmine’ campaign. Paul makes his own way to the island but soon finds that the idyllic Greek summer he had counted on is threatened by by more than the teenage tempers and tantrums by the pool.
Soon Paul becomes a victim of his own making as he slowly realises that sometimes you do collude in your own destruction.
I really enjoyed this book; it is so well plotted with excellent characterisation and great tension. The descriptive passages are strong and the narrative compelling. If you are looking for a great summer read – look no further, this is a blinder of a five star read.
Lie With Me is published by Mulholland Books in e-book on 5 July and in hardback on 28th July 2016