"This is the problem with a pathological liar: it's impossible to know what's true and what's a fantasy."
Pomare shows no sign of losing his momentum with this edge-of-the-seat thriller.
Tell Me Lies is literally a psychological thriller. The main protagonist in this cleverly constructed mystery is Margot; a psychologist trained to tell the truth from lies. This skill becomes crucial when she becomes trapped in a web of deception, becoming the target for a patient with a grudge.
The story begins with an ending - a clever device - yet it seems unrelated to the story. Readers must follow the tale to its conclusion before the reason for this becomes apparent.
In this way Pomare makes us question our own judgement, messing with our sense of the truth - which is pivotal to the plot.
Tell Me Lies begins with a testimony. Whose is it? It appears to be one of Margot's patients: Cormac, a handsome young man with a disarming smile.
"He smiles and it's clear he knows the power of that smile, a Hollywood smile - strong jaw, generous lips, eyes a deep green - he knows what it can do, the doors it can open."
Cormac exhibits what Margot perceives as an 'A-type personality' by trying to control his sessions with her. She views this as a defence mechanism, but he triggers a memory in Margot. Who is really in control?
"I let the silence linger. Silence compels clients to fill it; stay silent enough and you tend to get honesty."
Margot has broken protocol in the past, attracted to a patient in her early days of practice. With her marriage feeling more like companionship these days, will she be tempted to do it again?
It's a trait of New Zealand Crime novels that characters lose faith in the police, taking matters into their own hands. This is the theme of Paul Cleave's latest work, The Quiet People. If your family was in danger, what would you do?
Persecuted and attacked by someone who could be one of her patients, Margot does just this, following clues that lead to the perpetrator, and acting on her own behalf. But can she trust her instincts? And as the plot unravels, the reader is left wondering if we can trust her?
"It's hard to keep all the plates spinning when you begin lying to the police."
Who is telling the truth in a story where everyone has something to conceal? What extremes can drive someone to murder, kidnapping or arson?
This book had me looking over my shoulder. I need to read a nice fantasy novel to calm my nerves.
J. P. Pomare's first book, Call Me Evie, won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel in 2019 and his second, In the Clearing was shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel in 2020. Tell Me Lies has made the longlist for this year's award for Best Novel. This year the finalists will be announced on 28 August at WORD Christchurch Festival. The awards will be held at a special event this October.