Published by St. Martin's Press on April 11th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lisa Scottoline’s One Perfect Lie is a riveting thriller that sucked me in from the very first sentence: “Chris Brennan was applying for a teaching job at Central Valley High School, but he was a fraud.”
From the first moment of the novel, the main character Chris Brennan is painted as a master manipulator and liar. As Chris sits in the principal’s office interviewing for a job as a government teacher and assistant baseball coach at Central Valley High School, it immediately becomes clear that he is lying every step of the way. While presenting himself as the picture perfect candidate to fill the teaching position, Chris is also sitting there contemplating his real motivation for securing this job… and guess what? It has absolutely nothing to do with teaching. Chris’s thoughts are dark, sinister, and potentially deadly.
Because he’s perfect on paper and is able to easily lie his way through the interview, Chris lands the job and immediately begins to put step one of his real plan into motion. He needs a teenage boy to help him carry out his plan and, through prior research he has conducted of the classes he will teach and the baseball team he will coach, Chris has identified three prospective boys. First is Evan Kostis, who is popular, good looking, and comes from a wealthy family. Then there’s Jordan Larkin, who is shy and tends to be a bit of a follower, and the final candidate, Raz Sematov, who has a bit of a bad boy vibe. Like a predator, Chris observes these three boys intently for several days trying to determine which of them possesses the qualities he needs.
Scottoline had my full attention by this point as Chris’s ominous plot started to unfold. I ended up reading One Perfect Lie in less than a day. I literally could not stop turning the pages because the suspense was so great. I just had to know who Chris really was, what he was up to, what his motivations were, and most especially, why he needed a boy to help him carry out his seemingly sinister plan.
Holy Plot Twist, Batman! One of my favorite parts about One Perfect Lie was that after all of the setup that I just wrote about, Scottoline throws an unexpected wrench into the story that made me have to throw out every assumption I had built up in my mind about Chris Brennan and start all over again. I can’t really go into any details without spoiling the main action of the story, but it definitely threw me for a loop and took the story in an entirely different direction that I was expecting it to go.
I also liked the use of multiple points of view to unravel the mystery of this story. One Perfect Lie is told from the perspective not just of Chris Brennan, master liar, but also from the perspectives of the mothers of Evan, Jordan, and Raz. While Chris was the expected point of view, the mothers surprised me since I would have expected to hear from the boys. I really liked Scottoline’s use of the mothers though. From Susan Sematov’s perspective, we learn that Raz’s whole family is reeling from the unexpected death of Raz’s father a few months earlier, while from the perspective of Mindy Kostis, we learn that Evan is caught up in a life of drama that would rival Desperate Housewives. And finally, from Heather Larkin’s perspective, we learn that she is a single mom trying to make ends meet and therefore isn’t around for Jordan as much as she would like to be. Watching the story unfold from these POVs gave a lot of insight into the home lives of the three boys and what it was about each of them that drew Chris to them. It also revealed that Chris Brennan isn’t the only one walking around with secrets and lies, adding an element of juicy domestic drama to an already captivating mystery.
Scottoline does a fabulous job building up suspense throughout the story too. As I mentioned earlier, I literally could not put this book down once I got started. The mystery was just so engaging, and then there were just so many lies that needed to be unraveled. The pacing was quick and consistent, which was nice, and I can’t recall ever being bored while I was reading.
Even though I plowed through the book in less than a day, I still had a couple of issues with it. I sat on this review for a week just to see if these things still bothered me and yes, they still do.
- There’s some drama early on about needing to rent a truck from a business that would allow a teenage driver to pick up the truck. I’m intentionally being vague here because of spoilers, but the gist of my issue is that this scene is presented in such a way that it makes it seem like it’s crucial to the storyline, but then it’s never mentioned again. It left me very confused since I kept waiting to see when the truck would fit into the storyline.
- There’s an action sequence near the end that just felt didn’t feel realistic to me. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely made for great entertainment, but since the rest of the story felt so realistic, it just felt really out there in comparison, like something out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger action hero movie. Trust me, you’ll know exactly the scene I’m referring to when you get there.
Even with the couple of issues I had, I still very much enjoyed this read. With its intricate plot, riveting suspense, and a memorable cast of characters, One Perfect Lie is sure to please any reader who enjoys a great mystery.
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.