On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…
The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”
The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).
My Thoughts: There is something disturbing about a group of young girls, drawn together by circumstances, who find amusement in a game that involves lying. Especially when the goal of the lying is to hurt others, to put them in their place.
They must know that the practice of lying will come back to bite them, if not now, later in life. Or perhaps, in their immaturity, they do not care.
Kate is really at the heart of the lying game, in my opinion, and as much as I could see her need to control her friends through this game, since she has had much sadness in her life, I wished that the girls could have found a way to tell her no.
Isa, whose narrative voice draws us into The Lying Game, has a lot to lose by going along with Kate’s games…and so does Fatima.
Perhaps they did not foresee the consequences when they started the game. But surely they could have stopped at some point, before it all turned dangerous and horrific. Why is Kate able to crook her little finger and bring them all to her side? Ultimately, why does she have so much control over them, and what is she keeping from them? Is she breaking their one rule not to lie to each other?
I thought I knew how the story would unfold, so there were some stunning surprises that I realize, in retrospect, were hiding out in dark corners, waiting to be revealed in the most tragic way possible. 4.5 stars.