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The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publication: 3rd April 2018 - Lake Union

Date of Review: 16th April 2018


Can you hide a secret with the whole world watching?

When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered. A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building. Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

My Review

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie centres around three women, Cecily, Kate, and Franny. The women are linked by a tragic event where an explosion ripped apart a Chicago building, where 513 people were killed. It’s coming up to the first anniversary of the explosion and a documentary is being made about the real people behind this national tragedy. But just how accurate are these individual narratives? Can any of them be trusted?

Character and plot are cleverly interwoven through a medley of narrative devices, where the reader gets to know each character before the narrative strands are expertly brought together until one twist after the other forms one huge knot.

The first character the reader gets to know is Cecily, a mother of two whose husband has been killed in the explosion. Her best friend also worked in the same building, and she too has been killed. Cecily’s point of view is told through first-person narration, where we learn what is usually considered to be one of her weak points (she’s always running late) actually saves her life. But what she’s actually doing at her husband’s place of work adds intrigue: ‘It was ten in the morning. Seems like an odd time to meet your husband at his office.’ Cecily is the poster girl of the documentary, and is portrayed as they grieving widow whose life was destroyed that day. But just how accurate is this portrayal?

The second character is Kate. Kate’s family believe she was killed in the explosion, but unable to cope with her life in Chicago, Kate has escaped to her homeland in Canada, where she’s working as a nanny to two young boys. A third-person narrative is used to drip feed in events of Kate’s past, and there are lots of edge of the seat moments when you think her past is going to catch up with her. But does it? Just what has she done to make her run away? And will she be forced to face her past demons?

The third character is Franny. Franny is the youngest of the three main characters and is part of the documentary alongside Cecily. Told in an epistolary style of narration, through questionnaire type recordings made for the documentary, Franny had only just been reunited with her birth mother, when her mother was also killed in the explosion. Franny fights hard to ensure her mother’s husband and her two half-siblings receive the compensation they are entitled to. But what’s her real story?

This novel is full of so many twists and turns I felt almost physically dizzy. The premise really reminded me of 9/11, and it left me wondering just how many real people, affected that day, have similar stories to the characters in Catherine McKenzie’s novel. This is the first novel I have read by this author but it certainly won’t be the last.

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Another 5 star review from Literature Love.

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

Thank you to Catherine McKenzie for such an enjoyable read, and thank you to Lake Union and Amazon for this Advance Reader Copy.


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