Thursday, August 09, 2012

3 Lies (Helen Hanson)

Overall: 4.3
  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Originality: 4.5/5
  • Language: 4/5
  • Believability: 4/5
Genre: Thriller
Purchase Links:
Kindle US | UK
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Paperback US | UK
Other Links:
author website

Two seemingly unrelated conspiracy theories link together in 3 Lies, a book that combines espionage, high treason, and a very messy marriage. Betrayed by his wife, and six months away from divorce, technological genius Cliff Masters has chosen to shun all things high-tech in favor of a simple life on a docked boat. All seems to be going well, until his new girlfriend goes missing. Speaking of disappearances, ten CIA contacts have recently gone AWOL. Just what is going on?

I wasn't sure what to make of this book at first. It seemed like I was being told two different—and very compelling—stories, each of which could have stood on its own. Then, slowly, bits and pieces began coming together. By the end, I could fully appreciate the intricacy of the author's construct and the seamless manner in which two conspiracies converged. For all its switching between Doug's and Cliff's points of view, never once did the story lose my interest. I fully intended to read half the book today before getting back to work. Instead, I burned through page after page, caught up in the rhythm and tightly controlled flow of the plot. The passage of time only registered when I realized that the sun was going down.

Part of the reason why I was so hooked is that the story toys with a reader's mind with well-managed dexterity. A few short scenes would have me decided that this character or that character was definitely on the "right" side, and then more information would surface that suddenly cast a dark shadow of doubt on his or her integrity. It was nuanced enough that it was difficult to discern whether I was being led to the truth or tossed a particularly pungent kipper.

Perhaps it was because I read through so quickly, but I never did fully understand which were the titular "three lies" that were told. It also took several chapters before I realized that "Hizonner" was a slurred version of "His Honor," an intentional bit of mockery made no sense until I tried to say it aloud. For the most part, however, the book read smoothly. It was detailed enough to lend credibility without losing readers in technical language. Through passing descriptions of a few symptoms, readers can feel the desperation of Beth's situation, even if they know nothing about acute renal failure or hemodialysis. As far as this story goes, my only real bone of contention is the tidiness with which each loose end was woven back in. There is something to be said for allowing the audience to conjecture. Life, after all, is never that neat.

My day off is now gone, but it was time well spent. 3 Lies is one of those stories for which you'll need a few free hours...and perhaps a healthy dose of suspicion.

(Review copy provided by the author)

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