“I was escaping from a job I hated, Al was escaping from a failed relationship, Daisy was tagging along for the adventure, and Leanne… well, she was looking for somewhere to call home.”
C.L. Taylor‘s 2015 thriller, The Lie, follows Jane Hughes, an ordinary woman living in a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She has a caring boyfriend and a dream job working in an animal sanctuary and is happier than she’s ever been. But her name is not really Jane Hughes. Five years earlier, Emma went on a spa holiday with her three best friends to Nepal. It was the trip of a lifetime, until it rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women. Jane has tried to put her past behind her, but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves.
The Lie is the perfect example of why C.L. Taylor is one of the best authors of the thriller genre. Haunting and compelling, this addictive psychological thriller draws you in from the very first page, when Jane receives an anonymous note saying that somebody knows who she really is. From that point onwards, you’ll find it difficult to put this book down.
Having read all of her other books before divulging in this one, it is The Lie that gripped me the most. Taylor completely absorbs you into her story as a group of friends become entangled in a dangerous cult. It’s a plot that I haven’t seen explored before so I was immediately intrigued by it. An incredibly haunting encounter, one that makes you want to shout at the characters to warn them of whatever it is that lies ahead, you will find yourself hurriedly turning every page, wanting to find out more.
Like many of Taylor’s books, she uses a narrative technique of switching backwards and forwards in time between each chapter, changing from the present day, in which Jane is being stalked, to the past, five years earlier, when Emma (her real name) and her friends begin their trip to Nepal. As you are gradually given pieces of the puzzle bit by bit, the suspense is built up incredibly well, as Jane’s past starts to catch up with her present day.
This is definitely Taylor’s darkest book yet. It is revealed early on that only two of the four girls return home from the trip, so we are constantly left wondering what awful event must have led to something so catastrophic. But nothing prepares you for the trauma and torment that Emma has suffered.
There are many themes explored, some of which Taylor uses frequently in her books, including alcohol, sexual abuse, mental illnesses, and depression. You can tell that Taylor studied for a degree in Psychology as she really gets inside the minds of these characters and their many, many issues.
Taylor normally emphasises the strengths of women in her books – their resilience, their powerful instincts, their determination to do whatever must be done. But with The Lie, we also see their many weaknesses. Highlighting the tug of war conflict between this group of young females, this constant power struggle comes to full blow when the worst things that could happen on a girls’ holiday, happen in the most extreme possible ways.
All of the characters are explored in great detail. They may have a lot of history together, but bubbling under the surface is a lot of anger, jealousy and mistrust, all of which are waiting to be unleashed. With betrayal and resentment lying in wait, it’s more than just their friendships that are at risk; it is also their lives. There are already many cracks in their fragile relationship, as their friendship is put to the test in an intense and jaw-dropping way.
Despite being a very grim and twisted story, it does end with a message of hope. The final couple of chapters don’t have as much of an impact, however, as they feel rushed in comparison to the amazing setup, but this book will definitely not leave you disappointed.