On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.
But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.
Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.
Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.
Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.
At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?
Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.
I like Lisa Scottoline’s books, and so was keen to sit down and have a good read of her latest, a stand-alone. One Perfect Lie is set in a small town – the kind of small town where everyone is a good neighbour and most have secrets in their domestic lives that they struggle to hide from the world. Into this town walks Chris Brennan, our protagonist, newly arrived to take up the post of Government teacher and baseball coach.
He sets out to identify his targets: three teenage boys. Evan Kostis is rich and spoilt; Raz Sematov and his mother and brother are struggling to cope with his father’s recent death; and Jordan Larkin, a nice, quiet boy who is being brought up by is attractive, single, mother.
In a classic piece of misdirection, we think we know who Chris is and have a pretty good idea of what he is up to, but it is not until well into the book that his motivation and reasons for his actions becomes clear.
Perhaps because of this, the characterisation feels a little thin, and the plot a little more perfunctory than I would expect from a writer of Scottoline’s calibre, though there are some nice twists and a bit of love action thrown in for good measure.
It’s not that the book is not enjoyable – it is a decent read in the suburban noir meets terrorist genre – but it is almost as if having thought up the plot device, the rest of the story can coast to its conclusion.
I was a little bit disappointed that there was not more complexity and more robust character building, but overall it was still worth reading.
One Perfect Lie is published by St Martin’s Press on 11 April 2017