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By Sascha Arango
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 6/23/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Sascha Arango, Germany’s most prominent screenplay writer delivers THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES, a dark and twisted, witty psychological thriller, guaranteed to make your head spin.
“The liars among us will know that every lie must contain a certain amount of truth if it's to be convincing. A dash of truth is often enough, but it's indispensable, like the olive in the martini.”
Henry Hayden, age forty-four, is a cynical man without a soul. A borderline psychotic. He has a very dark wicked evil past. He is handsome, not highly intelligent, twisted, and charming. Psychologically damaged since his childhood—his father, who abused him for bed-wetting, tripped down the basement stairs and died on the same day his mother disappeared, among other things . .
He has a one night stand with Martha. His lucky day. He discovers a manuscript under her bed. He helps around the house with chores and sends off the manuscript, making himself useful. Martha does not care about fame or fortune, she only wants solitude and stays up all night cranking out one novel after another. The manuscript turns out to be a bestseller. The publisher is over the moon.
They soon marry and Martha allows Henry to pretend he is the author. She wants no part of the success. She says no one must ever know. He is the one who is in the limelight. She is eccentric, a recluse, and enjoys writing, undisturbed solitude, and swimming. Fame meant nothing to her. She read no reviews, while he read every single one. He particularly liked, "Every sentence is a stronghold." The secret was safe with Martha.
Henry is loving life. Playing tennis, cooking, shopping, spending money, fancy cars (Maserati), and continues to wine and dine his mistress in secret, while keeping fans at arm’s length. Martha never accompanies Henry to public appearances. Martha had warned him that success was a mere shadow that shifts with the moving sun. He will enjoy it while it lasts!
Henry keeps his promise to Martha and introduces himself as the author. This turned out to be easier than he thought. Apart from life experience, you don't require any special education to speak of; only a manuscript. You leave the final judgment to your critics and readers, because the less you speak about your work the more radiant your aura. He wasn't interested in literature, he led everyone to believe, he just wanted to write. That seemed to satisfy everyone!
However, things get complicated. Henry begins sleeping with his editor, straight away, among other women. Betty gets pregnant and is overjoyed at having his baby. He wants no part of being a parent and a screaming baby. He dreams of ways to eliminate her. They always meet at the cliffs. If his wife finds out, his life will be destroyed. If the publisher finds out, Betty’s job will end. Without Martha, Henry cannot keep up the facade, and the money will stop. Apart from Henry, only Martha knew that he hadn't written a single word of the novels himself.
Eight years later, Henry was a bestselling author, his work translated into twenty languages around the world, and five bestselling novels had been published by Moreany; all of them had been made into films or adapted for stage and Frank Elliswas already been used in schools, almost a classic.
Until there is an accidental death, which sends Henry spinning. To further complicate there is an old acquaintance, a stalker lurking nearby waiting to expose Henry’s past. (loved the Amazon reviews part). Now the police are on his trail, with two missing women and a publisher. What a quandary!
In the theme of Patricia Highsmith, from dark sardonic humor, to a disturbing psychological suspense mystery, a total fun fun, riot of a tale---highlighted by stark, startling prose and an intriguing plot.
Maybe Martha was a bit like Highsmith: "My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people.”
“There is no truth in me. The truth has been eaten up by the fish, the truth has been burnt up in the furnace; the truth is ashes."
The most talked about novel since Gone Girl, Henry may not have been a successful author; however, he can sure spin a hell of a tale, and can cover up lies like a "rock star" crime writer.
Pull out your black suit and dress, quite a few funerals to attend. A debut success—crime thriller lovers, and evil psycho-suspense fans will find this one quite clever and wickedly engaging.