Desert Isle Keeper Review

Tell Me Lies

Jennifer Crusie
1999 reissue of 1998 release, Contemporary Romance
St. Martin's Press, $7.50, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0312966806

Grade: A
Sensuality: Hot

There are two reviews of this book.

We romance readers have certain perceptions of Jennifer Crusie - she's witty and she's a great story-teller to name only two. When I first read the excerpt of Tell Me Lies on her web page, I could barely wait for the book to come out. I finally found it on the book rack at Wal-Mart last weekend. I could hardly believe it! I never find a Crusie book on the racks here in Edmonton, ever! I usually have to order them second hand from the States and hope for the best. Anyway, to make a long story short, I could hardly wait get my eyes into the pages of this book.

As I read, I found I didn't want to put the book down, no matter what. Yes, Tell Me Lies truly was better than I thought it was going to be. To quote the back of Ms. Crusie’s book, "Maddie Faraday’s life would be perfect, if it weren’t for her cheating husband, her suspicious daughter, her gossipy mother, her secretive best friend, her nosy neighbours, and that guy she lost her virginity to twenty years ago." If you don’t find this little lead-in intriguing already, you may as well stop reading right here.

Maddie Faraday is in a predicament - she’s the town good girl with a spotless reputation. She’s got a supposedly fairy-tale marriage in the eyes of her gossipy neighbors, even though her husband, Brent, is really running around on her like crazy. She's also got a mother who’s the town expert on any gossip going around. Just when Maddie finds proof of her husband's infidelity, her old boy friend, C.L. Sturgis, breezes into the town he left years ago, looking for her husband and asking a bunch of questions. C.L. was the town bad boy way back when and the town isn’t likely to forgive him. Now that he’s back in town, the neighbours are already hitting the grapevine.

In retrospect, Crusie couldn’t have chosen a better title for her book. Maddie begins to believe that her whole life has been one great, big lie and it’s obvious to her that she’s never really gotten C.L. out of her system. As for C.L., after 20 years, he still has the hots for Maddie, married or not. Maddie wouldn’t mind a little extra-curricular activity with C.L. (especially since her husband is such a cheater), but she does have a reputation to maintain. What if they get caught?

Well, they do get caught, and that’s bad enough, but then Brent shows up deader than a doornail and Maddie’s found money, lots of money in the back of her car trunk, as well as a gun that’s not hers but could possibly be the murder weapon. What to do?

In the meantime, C.L. has made it clear that he wants Maddie to be his; he loves her and he’s willing to take her anyway he can get her, but he really wants to marry her. When Brent comes up dead, that solves one little problem, but a dozen more crop up, and C.L. is caught in the middle of them. Yep, C.L. definitely has a motive to put Brent away, but of course he's not the killer and neither is Maddie. But who is?!

Well, if this hasn’t got you intrigued, I haven’t done my job. Anybody who’s familiar with living in a small town will relate to the gossipy neighbours in this story, plus there are some wonderful supporting characters too, especially Maddie's grandmother, whom everybody says is insane but who actually is the sanest person in town.

I loved this book. Crusie has written a tale that will drive you crazy trying to figure out who the killer really is. If you like a good murder mystery with lots of hot spots and lots of funny dialogue, Tell Me Lies is just perfect for you.

By the way, for one last laugh, take a good look at the picture on the front cover. At first, you’ll wonder about it, but after you read the book, you’ll find out that the picture does have meaning within the context of the book. That is Crusie’s sense of humor showing up in picture form. Trust me, Tell Me Lies really isn’t to be missed.

-- Deborah Barber

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