Book review: Tell Me Lies by JP Pomare

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 Permalink

Tell Me Lies is JP Pomare’s third novel and there’s always a level of uncertainty and suspicion about the unfolding plot. In the first of his books, Call Me Evie, readers were presented with characters offering different perspectives and unsure who to believe and trust. In the second, In The Clearing Pomare does someone quite clever with the timing and here… well, we know someone dies at the hands of someone else but Pomare cleverly includes snippets from media clippings and court testimony that could come from anyone at any time at all.

In reality the back cover blurb gives us an idea of what the motivation is going to be behind the events of this book. I think it gives a little too much away. I wish I hadn’t known that someone had sought revenge on Margot because we’re suspicious of everyone in her life from the outset.

Book review: Tell Me Lies by JP PomareTell Me Lies
by J.P. Pomare
Published by Hachette Australia
on 29/12/2020
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 9781869718169
Pages: 257
three-half-stars
Goodreads

Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children, and a successful career. On a warm spring morning, Margot spots one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches.

That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train. Suddenly, one tragedy leads to another leaving her, her family, and her patients in danger. As misfortune unfolds, listeners will soon question Margot’s true role in all of these unfortunate events.

Interestingly the book opens with the train incident and Pomare doesn’t identify the woman who pushes the man onto the tracks so – had it not been for the blurb – I could have imagined it might have been someone else.

I liked the idea of the victim and perpetrator being someone unexpected. Someone we meet, so we’re given a fair chance, but someone we don’t suspect. And though I liked the diary entries included here they felt a bit obvious. I assumed I knew who was writing them but hoped it wasn’t the case. And thankfully, ultimately there is an element of deception and a twist or two.

Pomare does a great job at creating a sense of menace. We’re not entirely sure what’s at play and I enjoyed the introduction of Margot’s family. Perhaps the references to her father were a little underdone as there’s a belated mention of her potentially not living up to his expectations and I wondered how much of her work and ambition is a result of his legacy.

I also wasn’t sure if there were a couple of editing issues. For example, Peter is mentioned in passing before he’s introduced. Of course it may be there to incite our interest; so we’re looking out for further mention when it comes. But there’s also reference to Margot’s daughter July and an experience with an ex-boyfriend but I wasn’t ever sure what had happened as it sounded like it had potentially been a big deal.

Pomare introduces some interesting concepts here. Margot is a psychologist and presenting papers so particularly interested in Antisocial Personality Disorder, for example. And – as we’re in her head – we learn what she’s thinking about each of her clients and their psychopathology.

I also very much enjoyed references to son Evan’s gaming habit. I wasn’t too sure about parents letting their school-aged teenage son stay up half the night playing games and not really having any idea who he’s interacting with online. And then there’s the virtual violence and online bullying involved. He seems like a good kid so it’s a reminder people say things online they would never say in person.

This is an enjoyable read from Pomare. I liked the plot but felt maybe the pacing was a little off as it felt as if the plot progressed in fits and starts. And I must confess I’m not sure I liked Margot as much as I would have liked. She remained a bit distant as a character. Perhaps it’s so we don’t learn too much too soon?

This is twisty enough however, that though we may have our suspicions, we don’t entirely see how it all comes together. And of course I liked the little surprise Pomare threw in at the end. I wonder if we should have glimpsed that a little earlier… and perhaps we did and I missed it.

Tell Me Lies by JM Pomare will be published in Australia in late December 2020 by Hachette.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

three-half-stars

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