Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: One Perfect Lie

Summary: On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan's baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget. -- St. Martins Press

I am truly a book geek. I find such great pleasure in picking the one book I'll read on my train ride to New York for BEA. And this year's winner was ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline. I've been reading Ms. Scottoline for ages, and I always look forward to her latest novel.

ONE PERFECT LIE is a gripping story about a mysterious man. Chris Brennan is seemingly perfect. He's tall and handsome. He's working as a high school government teacher and baseball coach, and he forms an immediate bond with the students. But it becomes quickly apparent to the reader that Chris isn't what he seems. Through a great deal of planning, he's created a background for himself; and everything seems to be going according to plan... until one of his co-workers realizes that they are both from Wyoming and wants to talk about things they have in common. This very same co-worker ends up dead (supposedly by suicide); and I, for one, began to wonder about Chris' intentions!

Meanwhile, Chris is targeting a few students, boys in his classes and on the baseball team, who might be vulnerable enough to help him with a plan. Details about this plan are sketchy, but suffice it to say that this plan involves a truck and ammonium chloride fertilizer.

Chris has three main interests (or targets!) -- Raz, a star pitcher whose father recently died; Jordan, a quiet boy with a single mom; and Evan, a rich kid who is keeping secrets. ONE PERFECT LIE follows each kid's personal story as Chris tries to determine who he can most control... and eventually  be complicit with him in a startling finale!

I enjoyed ONE PERFECT LIE. It was a fast-paced thriller with quite a few twists -- some predictable, some not-so-predictable. And it definitely had an action-packed ending. It was a bit different for me than most of Ms. Scottoline's books; however, I enjoyed the story, the characters, and her writing... so I guess it wasn't all that different of a reading experience for me.

One thing I really appreciated about this book is that it wasn't a pure mystery or suspense novel. Rather, Ms. Scottoline explored the complex lives of these three troubled boys. In fact, I might even say that the strength of this novel was how she delved into the lives of teenagers. I found her portrayals to be very realistic especially as they related to their friend and family relationships. As a mom of a teenager and an almost teenager, I thought she did a fantastic job of showing the ins and outs of high school as well as the difficult challenges kids face in today's society with peer pressure, social media, and more.

Another thing I enjoyed about this novel was that it did manage to surprise me -- and one of those times was a pretty big shock. The novel did have many twists and turns (and truth be told, the chase at the end was extremely exciting); however, I will admit that I did see quite a few of them coming. (Pretty much all of them except the big one!) I don't know that the predictability of the story altered my appreciation of the story, though. I thought the plot was pretty well planned and the story was pretty tight.

All in all, I'd say that ONE PERFECT LIE is a good summer read... one that should be included in your beach or pool bag. Fans of Ms. Scottoline's won't be disappointed, and I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't pick up a few new ones!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

That sounds like an exciting page turner!

The Book Sage said...

With 6.5 years of blogging under my belt. And decades of reading. It's hard to believe that I have never read Scottoline.