I had heard a great deal of chatter about The Honest Lies, Elizabeth Lyvers’ debut novel. Naturally, I wanted to read the book to form my own opinion and one thing I can tell you straight off: this does not read like a debut novel. The author tells the story in a most assured way.
Jack Murphy’s past died with his parents. Since then, he’s crafted a lonely but successful life operating the family’s drug wholesale business in a place miles and years away from Detroit. He’s even falling for his next-door neighbor Megan, a young woman grieving the recent death of her husband.
But when twenty million dollars’ worth of drugs disappear from one of Jack’s warehouses, he grapples to connect past mistakes with a new, as yet invisible enemy. Someone remembers. Someone is settling the score.
Megan loved her husband, enough to move a thousand miles before asking questions about his past. With nothing but their memories left to protect, she struggles to reconcile the documents she finds in his closet – evidence tying him to a robbery committed months after his death.
It isn’t until Megan is kidnapped that she grasps how deeply her husband’s sins were intertwined with Jack’s past. Only then can she begin to unravel the complex relationship between truth and love – and lies told with the best of intentions.
The Honest Lies is a confident, assured novel that weaves between past and present to develop the great characters early in the book. The author makes the characters vivid and well-rounded. She allows the reader to really care for them and what happens to them. This makes the book very hard to put down. The mystery begins at the very beginning of the book when Jack’s mother dies of cancer and he takes over the family’s multi-million dollar pharmaceutical company.
Jack’s neighbour, Megan, recently lost her husband after he was hit by a car. Jack and her husband, Lane, had been at high school together and that connection holds the key to some peculiar things which happen. Then, the author grabs the reader again when an important incident occurs within the plot which creates havoc within Jack’s life and everyone seems to be against him. All the way through the novel I had doubts about who was on Jack’s side, and the half-truths the characters told were confusing, as the author intended!
After this the story picks up even more pace and, having been gripping beforehand, it suddenly becomes even more exciting. Some of the incidents in the book are brutal and bloodthirsty and there are some vile characters. However, the author sprinkles in relief by way of humour in the shape of building manager, Mrs Carp and some scenes between Jack and his friend Pete.
I often get confused with a story that jumps between time frames, but the author dealt with that clearly, so I did not find it overly problematic in this book. I did find the many refences to faith annoying, but again, the author keeps those within the characters lives which made it credible and minimised my irritation. I found the end completely satisfying and highly recommend this thrilling and captivating debut novel. I am sure it would create excellent discussions in book groups.
Elizabeth Lyvers grew up in West Virginia, part-time in the library and part-time on the basketball court. As insinuated, she read voraciously – at the dinner table, on the bus to basketball games, occasionally in the locker room. At some point between Ivanhoe and The Woman in White she grew to believe that story is the clearest way to understanding Life. She most loves a book that doesn’t shy away from exploring darkness but that can still find its way to beauty and truth.
She currently lives in Texas with her best friend, chief reader, and husband. They have a dog and a brand new baby who enjoys walks, car rides, and staying up past bedtime.
The Honest Lies is her first published novel.