I have struggled with a couple of Lisa Jackson’s recent novels, though had previously read quite a few and enjoyed them.
I was tempted by this one however by an overseas publisher who sold me on its interesting premise and this (for me) was a return to form!
In death, Didi Storm is finally getting the kind of publicity that eluded her in life. Twenty years ago, the ex-beauty queen worked the Vegas strip as a celebrity impersonator, too busy to spare much time for her daughter, Remmi. Shortly before she leaped from a San Francisco building, Didi’s profile was rising again, thanks to a tell-all book. To Detective Dani Settler, it looks like a straightforward suicide, or perhaps a promotional stunt gone wrong. But Remmi knows the truth isn’t so simple. Because though the broken body on the sidewalk is dressed in Didi’s clothes and wig, it isn’t Didi.
Remmi was fifteen when she last saw her mother. They parted in the aftermath of a terrible night in the Mojave desert when Remmi—who’d hidden in Didi’s car en route to meet her crush, Noah Scott—instead witnessed Didi handing over one of her newborn twins to a strange man. Then Didi disappeared, as did Remmi’s other half-sibling. The authorities have found no clues. Yet Remmi has always sensed that someone is watching her . . .
Remmi is shocked when Noah resurfaces. He was also in the desert that night, and now runs his own PI firm. He too believes it’s time to find out what happened. As they and Detective Settler dig deeper, the truth about Remmi’s missing family begins to emerge—a story of ruthless ambition and lies that someone will kill again and again to keep hidden . . .
This book opens in the ‘now’ but soon flicks back two decades where we meet a teenage Remmi and her mother Didi and it’s the actions of the latter that causes reverberations all of these years later.
Unlike a lot of novels this doesn’t really continue to go back and forth in time. It’s really just the events leading up to her Didi’s disappearance and the fallout that accompanied it. We get a bit of history via other characters now and then but the majority of the book unfolds in the present as our two leads (Remmi and police officer Dani Settler – who I’m assuming has featured in a previous book as there’s reference to teenage years held captive) try to piece together the events that took place twenty years earlier. Ones that have been resuscitated by the release of a book about Didi’s life, ending with her disappearance; and now the death of the Didi-lookalike.
Remmi’s remarkably well-adjusted given her childhood though she seems to have been loved by her mother – despite Didi’s unorthodox style of parenting and hair-brained schemes – so she’s a resilient soul and surprisingly upbeat.
I was a bit surprised at how much this book lured me in. Fairly early on we’re put in the head of someone who’s ‘somehow’ involved in what’s happening… though there seem to be a few with a stake in the game: players playing the player, if that makes sense. So there are lots of twists and turns throughout this book. I certainly didn’t guess whodunnit or the truth behind Didi’s disappearance.
And, I liked that Jackson offered us a lot of grey characters. Easy to hate, but surprisingly sympathetic. Or likeable but untrustworthy. And those who had just been dealt a raw deal and we’d met them at a particularly bad time in their lives. Suffice to say, many of the characters here are not ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’.
The end was a little surprising and perhaps a little unfulfilling given where I thought Jackson was taking us but then again I do like my threads firmly severed or tied neatly rather than hanging loosely.
Liar Liar by Lisa Jackson was published by Kensington Publishing Corporation and is now available.
I received an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.