Simon & Schuster, July 25, 2017.
Isa is a new mom in her early thirties with a successful career as a lawyer, when she gets a text from a childhood friend that brings her back to her boarding school days. The text is from her friend Kate, who still lives in her crumbling childhood home on the marshes of Salten, and it only consists of three words: “I need you.” Isa doesn’t hesitate when she packs up baby Freya, tells her husband she is going to a high school reunion, and jumps on a train to Salten.
Kate and Isa were also close to two other girls at school, Thea and Fatima. As the novel alternates between the past and the present, we learn about the complicated dynamic between the girls. They meet on the first day of the school year and are quickly introduced to “the lying game,” in which the girls award each other points for telling outlandish yet convincing lies. There are only a few rules to the game, but the most important is that the girls never lie to each other. They trust each other with their deepest secrets, but how well do they really know each other?
Now, many years later, the friends are reunited in Salten, where they town is desolate and decaying, and Kate’s family home is falling slowly into the sea. Fatima and Thea received the cryptic text as well, and when all the women arrive, Kate reveals why she has summoned them – a body has washed up on the shores of the marsh, and it may be connected to the secrets and lies of their boarding school days. The only way to keep their secret is continuing to play the lying game.
This is a thriller, but it has a slower, darker pace – until the tense atmosphere is escalated at the end. It is more complex than some thrillers, and yet it is implausible in many ways. The urgency that brings the girls back together seems especially contrived and unnecessary. I found Isa to be melodramatic and immature, although all the main characters are well-developed and distinct – in fact, I think it might have been better if the narration alternated between all four of the girls. Although she narrated the entire novel, Isa was actually the least interesting character – but maybe she was also the most relatable because she was so generic. However, even with these minor flaws, I found this novel to be very entertaining and unpredictable, and I sped through it to find out the girls’ secrets, and the consequences of the lying game.
I received this book from Simon & Schuster and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.