Okay. Here’s what it is. When a book is called The Book of Lies, I I wanted the narrator to be truly, truly unreliable. Unreliable as hell is what I wanted. I wanted her to bleed unreliability. I wanted to never feel sure what was going on, and at the end of the book, I wanted there to be a SHOCKING TWIST where the book told me, Hey, you thought you knew what was going on? Boy were you wrong (a la A Dark-Adapted Eye).
That’s what I wanted. I had it in my head that’s what I was going to read, when I got The Book of Lies out of the library. And y’all know how it is when you have it in your head you’re going to read one thing and it turns out when you read it that it’s not that thing, it’s something else. It’s not good, you guys, it’s not good. Expectations are a bitch.
Cat Rozier swears she didn’t kill her friend (frenemy! I hate that word!) Nicolette on purpose. She swears she didn’t intend to become a murderer. Then it’s all flashback. Since the death of Cat’s father, an eminent Channel Islands historian, Cat has become extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Channel Islands under German occupation. Not pleasant stories. As she tells the story of her stormy friendship with Nicolette, we also read the confessional documents of her long-deceased uncle Emile, whose father died during the occupation.
Here’s what it is, y’all. I liked this book once I figured out that it wasn’t going to be so much a book of lies, as it was a book of secrets. Cause I love secrets! I love family secrets. I love historical secrets. Secrets are the best. There are few things I love better than the elegant, gradual unfolding of a backstory. Remember how JK Rowling did that in Harry Potter? So awesome. Oh mercy, the day that it was revealed [name redacted] was eavesdropping when [name redacted] was [action redacted] to [name redacted]? (See how I am spoiler-conscious? That’s all for you guys.) My passionate love of backstory and Family Secrets saved this book for me. I didn’t not like it. I’m warning you about this so you can benefit from my experience and go into this book without false expectations. Expect secrets! And a few lies. But mostly regular secrets.
The Book of Lies suffered from a few of the pitfalls you can suffer from if you insist on doing past-and-present storylines. I wasn’t madly in love with either storyline, but the Emile parts were significantly less interesting than the Cat parts. The most interesting thing, in both storylines, was the history of the Channel Islands. As the link between the past storyline and the present storyline, this history kept me interestedish in both but wasn’t quite enough of a link. The two storylines felt adjacent, not intertwined.
When I write this sort of review, I feel like a dummy. This review is like: Bad stuff! But not as bad as you thought! Good stuff! But not as good as you thought! I am sorry. This is what you get when I wait and wait and wait to write a review. I need to get more focused and be focused and methodical and an awesome blogger. Someday that will happen again. Unemployment was much more conducive to blogging productivity than employment plus commute plus roommate woes.