Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found in Dublin's Grand Canal it brings back memories of the infamous Canal Killer, who confessed to killing five young students ten years previously. Is there a copy-cat or could there be something more sinister at play? When the serial-killer tells the police that he has some information he wants to share, he has one condition: He will only talk to his ex-girlfriend. He has not seen her since his confession and he needs to tell her something.

Alison fled Ireland ten years ago. Now she must return to her previous life and face the past that she has hidden for so long. Just what does Will want to tell her? Does she really want to know? Can she prevent a future murder by remembering the ones in the past? 

From the author of Distress Signals this is another tense and thrilling tale of secrets, lies and murder. Catherine Ryan Howard treats the reader to snippets from the past and present, where we read chapters from the viewpoint of  'Alison, now' and 'Alison, then'. The past mainly focuses on the life of an undergraduate student; living away from home and getting her bearings in a new city; the friendships made and ones lost; the skipping of lectures  to spend time with Will; the edited version  of college life that she shares with her parents. The University is a fictional one, yet the streets of Southside Dublin are accurate and atmospheric. Interestingly, there is no real change noted when Alison finds herself back in Dublin. She is still traumatised by the past and finds herself back on her familiar stomping ground, which she has avoided for years. 

Garda Malone is assigned to the new Canal murder case and appoints himself as unofficial guardian of Alison. They both trust each other and this results in  plenty of coffee, croissants and leaked information. The story builds gradually and the tension is provided by untitled chapters and shadows from the past.  A trip to her parent's Wicklow home reminds Alison how much she has missed by hiding from Ireland. Her mother is thrilled to have her daughter under her roof and delights in spoiling her. This is a lovely, warm touch in the midst of the madness surrounding the murders.

The Liar's Girl is a dark and tense thriller which starts and ends with gusto. It is a creepy, worrying look at how easy it is to become a victim of a stalker who know all the tricks of the trade. It will definitely make you think twice about walking home, alone. 

The Liar's Girl is published by Corvus and is available in PB and ebook format. Available in all good bookshops and via amazon link below:

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