I intentionally do not read others' reviews before writing my own, but I doubt my experience with The Liar's Diary is unique: there is bloody little of this book I can talk about without revealing, or at least alluding to, spoilers. This is not a bad thing. It means Patry Francis's novel is so carefully put together, so painstakingly plotted, that it will satisfy those purists for whom reading means active sleuthing. Or passive readers like me who just like to be entertained. Or perhaps even those who wish Sue Grafton would get serious and write a murder mystery contemplating suburban women's relationships.
Jeanne Cross, a superficially perfect but dull mother and wife, forms an intense, unlikely friendship with Ali Mather, the beautiful, vibrant, scandalous high school music teacher. Despite her initial misgivings over Ali's many and open extra-marital affairs -- and her husband's disapproval -- Jeanne soon succumbs to Ali's magnetic personality. Wine-soaked book chats and walks by the lake ensue. Doesn't it sound dreamy? Don't we all wish that a really interesting person would suddenly take a special interest in us, and write about us in a diary like Ali's?
Unfortunately, the dream evaporates into stark, harsh reality when Ali is murdered in her own home, her diary goes missing, and the main suspect turns out to be Jeanne's teenage son, Jamie. After this point, nasty revelations begin to erupt, and -- trite but true -- I doubt anyone will be able to put the book down until the mystery is cleared. You've been warned.
I wish I could write more about the plot, but, again, I cannot. Though I can let you know how much I enjoyed Ali's consistent portrayal as gorgeous and luminous and in her late 40's, not despite her age. I also appreciated how much empathy Ms. Francis demonstrated towards her characters, including Jamie with his teenage bravado and bewilderment, and Ali's beleaguered but faithful husband George.
If you enjoy a good gossip purely because you crave insights into others' minds, hearts, and actions, you will enjoy the twists, turns, people, and surprises in The Liar's Diary.
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