Review: “The Liar’s Room” by Simon Lelic

Full of suspense, shrouded in mystery, ripe with tension, and impossible to put down until nearly the end when the entire truth comes out.

About the Book

Book Cover: "The Liar's Room" by Simon Lelic
“The Liar’s Room” by Simon Lelic

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago, she left her identity behind and started a new life. She became a counselor. Started her own practice. Bought a semi-detached home. Steered clear of anything that could reveal the shame and trauma of her past, such as close knit friendships and even the Internet. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe and happy.

But when a new patient named Adam walks into her office, her carefully constructed world threatens to crumble. There’s something hauntingly familiar about Adam. As she sinks into her role as his therapist, she tries to uncover the reason for his visit. It’s then he tells her. There’s this girl he knows. A girl he wants to hurt. The more he talks, the more Susanna realizes Adam knows her secret. And the girl he wants to hurt is Susanna’s daughter Emily.

Who is Adam?

Why does he seem so familiar to Susanna?

What is Susanna hiding about her past?

And what has Adam done to Emily?

My Review

“The Liar’s Room” by Simon Lelic is a psychological thriller that wastes no time digging its claws into your attention span and holding on tight. If the story was told in first person point-of-view instead of third, Susanna and Adam would both be unreliable narrators. Neither like to reveal the truth up front. Not in their dialogue — or in Susanna’s thoughts. Their stories are engrossing, yet shrouded in a thick fog of secrets and lies that unravel in ways you can sometimes predict — but also in ways you can’t.

Lelic seems to intentionally make it easy for you to figure out some of the truth. The story is as complex as the characters. One uncovered truth seems to lead to more lies that must be unraveled to reveal another truth. His writing masterfully weaves Adam’s revelations (such as who he is) into Susanna’s secret, and Adam’s lies (such as his mother and father loved each other) into Susanna discovering more of his truth. All the while, Lelic builds their characters so that neither one is all that likable, yet both illicit some sympathy.

Nothing comes from lies and secrets except hurt. It could be the moral of this story, but it’s also what makes Adam and Susanna compelling. They’re both liars. They’re also both victims of tragic circumstances.

In a market that’s saturated with psychological thrillers, “The Liar’s Room” stands out from the rest as one that’s true to the genre. It checks off every requirement that’s needed to make a psychological thriller. It’s full of suspense, shrouded in mystery, ripe with tension, and impossible to put down until nearly the end when the entire truth comes out.

How will Susanna and Adam deal with the aftermath?

What will happen to Emily?

You’ll have to read to find out. “The Liar’s Room” by Simon Lelic is sure to be devoured by devotees to the genre — and anyone else who makes the good choice to snag a copy of the book.

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