Smile Politely

Truth Truth Lie is a fast-paced thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end

Christina Delay's Truth Truth Lie sits on on a bookshelf with other thrillers behind it. The cover shows a beautiful woman's face half covered with the title large in bold red letters
Serenity Stanton Orengo

I love a good thriller. And I really love a good domestic thriller. As I recently described to a friend, “you know, the kind when there is some scandal, and it turns out someone had an affair, and then someone ends up dead. That kind.” That’s not actually the plot of Christina Delay’s Truth Truth Lie, but it’s definitely the same vibe. When I was looking for a book for my inaugural book review for Smile Politely, I was thrilled to find Delay’s book on the “Local Authors” shelf at The Literary (Delay is from Danville, Illinois and also writes young adult fantasy under the pen name Kris Faryn). I could immediately tell based purely on the title and cover that this was the perfect summer read for me.

Christina Delay sits on the ground outside in front of a tree with her legs crossed. She is white, with long brown hair with bangs. She wears jeans and a green sleeveless top while smiling at the camera.
Christina Delay on Facebook

If I were to take my preferred scandal/ affair/ dead person category one step further, I would include, “thrillers that have the word ‘lie’ in the title.” If you aren’t a big thriller fan, you may not know this is a surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) specific but popular category. I currently have on my shelf no less than three books that fit in this exact category. It’s not to say they aren’t original, just that it’s a great set up for a good thriller.

Truth Truth lie sits in a stack of books on a bookshelf along with "Sometimes I lie" and "The lies I tell"
Serenity Stanton Orengo

I like to go into certain books with zero knowledge of the plot, so I didn’t even read the dust jacket before starting this one (although I did see that it was a “Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense” finalist, so I figured it wouldn’t be a total flop). I’m assuming if you are reading a review before reading the book, you don’t share this quirk. Even still, I’ll do my best to avoid major spoilers, but some light spoilers — from early on — will be necessary.

The book opens with the line, “Every good story starts with a lie.” It’s told from a double point of view, with chapters devoted to Lily and her best friend Jane, in turn. It’s clear from the beginning that both women have something to hide. Lily is, on the surface, a perfect housewife. She’s married to Evan; they are both impossibly attractive and wealthy, and Lily makes homemade pies for social gatherings at their perfect home. Jane works at the zoo and is unmarried but has a devoted boyfriend — who conveniently is a computer genius that allows him to hack as necessary throughout the story.

Within the first few pages, we learn Lily has a secret life Evan clearly doesn’t know about: she runs a high-end escort service. The plot kicks off when, almost immediately, Lily realizes one of her girls hasn’t checked in by curfew (for their own safety), and she discovers the girl has been taken by Reeve “the most dangerous man” Lily has ever met and her former pimp and lover. Reeve wants half a million dollars in exchange for Zelda — Lily’s missing girl — and to not ruin Lily’s life by outing her secret to everyone she knows.

While, it turns out, Lily actually has 30 million dollars in cash stashed away, she doesn’t have the opportunity to give Reeve his requested share before it’s stolen — by either her husband or Jane. Lily enlists the help of Reeve (yes, the dangerous villain who is blackmailing her) to get her money back. Before that happens, Lily ends up attacked and in a coma, with either her husband (who is maybe having an affair with Jane) or Reeve to blame. All of this happens in the first 35 pages. From there, we are left with Jane trying to piece together what happened, while contending with her own guilt (over what, we aren’t exactly sure — maybe an affair with her best friend’s husband, or maybe something else). Neither Jane nor Lily are reliable narrators, so you are left guessing constantly whether what they say is the truth.

I like to think of myself as an ideal thriller reader: I try to figure out the twists, but I don’t try too hard. I like to be surprised, but I’m also just not the type to figure out the killer in the first five minutes of any suspense movie or tv show. So, when I say I didn’t figure out any of the twists, it doesn’t mean another reader wouldn’t. But, I don’t think anyone would foresee the entire ending early on. This is partly because it got a little convoluted, an unfortunate side effect of thriller-writers always needing to add in a few extra twists to keep readers satisfied and to outdo their predecessors. I will say I didn’t think all of the final twists quite worked. There are a few moments where if you think about it too hard, certain parts of the plot just don’t make sense, even within the reality of the book. Regardless, it didn’t ruin the book for me, and I wasn’t let down with the conclusion.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s not perfect, but thrillers in particular rarely are. This is definitely a book you can settle in with and read in an afternoon; it leaves you wanting to read quickly to see how everything unfolds, and will shock you a time or two in the process. What more can you ask for?

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