The Lying Room: Book summary and reviews of The Lying Room by Nicci French

The Lying Room

by Nicci French

The Lying Room by Nicci French X
The Lying Room by Nicci French
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2019
    432 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

In this thrilling standalone from the internationally bestselling author of the Frieda Klein series, a married woman's affair with her boss spirals into a dangerous game of chess with the police when she discovers he's been murdered and she clears the crime scene of all evidence.

One little secret between a married woman, her lover, and a killer.

It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul's life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can't get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It's brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve's worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn't the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who's about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair…

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Long before the end, the sorely tried heroine realizes, 'I can't trust anyone.' Neither can the expertly manipulated reader." - Kirkus Reviews

"This stand-alone from the team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, authors of the Frieda Klein series, delivers engaging characters, a complex story, and steadily increasing suspense. International best-seller French belongs on every thriller fan's TBR list." - Booklist

"French makes Neve a fully rounded character through her relationships with friends and colleagues, though Neve's family dynamics stoop to the melodramatic. Fans of domestic thrillers will be rewarded." - Publishers Weekly

"Attention, fans of Tana French and Ruth Ware: meet your new obsession...The Lying Room ranks among French's very best, a thriller as combustible as gunpowder, as propulsive as a jet engine. Psychological suspense at its brightest and most blazing." - A.J. Finn

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Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

A brilliant, blackly funny and wholly enthralling read.
The Lying Room is the thirteenth stand-alone novel by British writing duo, Nicci French. Neve Connolly “was not so far off fifty. She had a husband who was more or less unemployed and on and off depressed; a job that had ground her down; financial worries. And she had a daughter who for years had turned her life inside out and upside down.”

She regards her affair with senior colleague, Saul Stevenson: “like a gulp of fresh water, reminding her that she still had a self, a sliver of life that belonged only to her”; it is a “joyful escape from the distress of her life.” She’s perhaps not proud of it, but she can’t really help herself. When she receives a text that represents an unexpected opportunity to be together, she quickly heads for their pied-a-terre. So she’s shocked to find Saul’s corpse, clearly the victim of a violent attack.

Neve has a logical reason for not calling 999: it would break her already fragile teenaged daughter Mabel, “jittery and frantic and full of rage”, to discover Neve’s infidelity to her husband of twenty years, Fletcher. Instead, she meticulously and methodically removes any trace of herself and their relationship. Well, almost. When she returns for an overlooked item, she makes a disturbing discovery.

When the murder is reported, DCI Alastair Hitching is on the case. Neve finds his gaze disturbing, and has to firmly resist the urge to tell him everything. “’Secrets,’ he ruminated, looking ahead, walking with long strides. ‘They’re dangerous things, don’t you agree?’” Trying to keep it all together, “She realised that she was already thinking like a criminal” and at every encounter with Hitching, Neve feels all will be revealed and she is about to be arrested.

The authors manage to work some deliciously dark ironies and utterly wicked twists into the plot. When it seems things can't get any worse, of course they can, and do! As the story unfolds, occasional elements of farce emerge, and sometimes things actually feel quite surreal, especially as, despite the dark goings-on, the minutiae of a life with a husband, a “stormy, ferocious” teenaged daughter, two pre-teen sons and a guinea pig, continue throughout.

Every so often, Neve succinctly summarises her current situation and as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly bizarre, although, to her surprise “Life continued in its tracks. Perhaps, she thought, it would be like a building that is demolished, holding its shape after the button is pushed, only gradually losing its outline, wavering, folding in on itself with a roar.”

This duo certainly has a way with words: as Neve tries to puzzle out who has done this, she understands that someone had “spread distrust through her like a stain.” A brilliant, blackly funny and wholly enthralling read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Australia.

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Author Information

Nicci French Author Biography

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.

Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire, England. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor. It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French. She has individually written eight novels (as of 2017).

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at...

... Full Biography

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