Review: The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

My review is of The Good Liar, a mystery/thriller by Catherine Mckenzie, featuring 3 women and their struggle with tragedy.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This blog contains affiliate links. I make a small commission when you decide to buy books via the Amazon or Book Depository purchase links available in the book review's post.

The Good Liar book cover

The Good Liar

by Catherine McKenzie

Published March 3, 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
ISBN: 1542047099

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): 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

As much as I wanted to love this book, sadly, I just didn’t. And I think a lot of it has to do with the approach the author took for writing this story.

The Pros: What worked for me

  • I really like that the story featured 3 very distinct female characters. Usually, I find that most authors create very similar main characters, but with this book, Cecily, Kate, and Franny all had their own distinct voice and mannerisms.
  • I also liked that the story was told from their perspectives – but in different writing styles. Cecily and Kate had their own chapters, while Franny’s POV was presented in an interview format; I really liked the inclusion of this latter style because it created a nice break from the conventional writing format and kept me interested.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • This novel had a huge focus on emotions and how they shape identity, and there was a big focus on depression. I like that the author attempted to highlight the emotional toll that losing a partner can take, and how guilt carries on and prevents people from moving on. But the way in which the author attempted to do this just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t help but feel very detached from the characters.
  • The way in which the author presented the story also didn’t work for me; it always felt like I was being told what the character was feeling and why they were feeling rather than shown. There was no element of discovery, and no opportunity for me to make my own conclusions about the story or the characters, which could explain that lack of connection.
  • The story itself … just wasn’t that thrilling. The twists weren’t that big and the whole emotional aspect of the story detracted from any feelings of, well, suspense. Whenever there was a potentially thrilling occurrence, it was either dropped too quickly or not followed up on and I found that quite disappointing. The few twists and turns that were there also just made me frustrated because they weren’t really shocking reveals as much as just going back and forth about the same thing. My train of thought the entire time was just “Ok, here’s something suspicious that someone said, but oh nope turns out it’s wrong, and then wait nope we are back to that again and apparently we were right the first time” and that gets old reeeeaaaal quick. To me, that isn’t a thriller, it’s just a heap of confusion masquerading as a thriller and it makes me really frustrated.

I know it seems like I really hated this book. While there were things that were wrong with it, I still ended up finishing it and wanting to know how the story ended – so that must mean there was some level of success in the author’s ability to pique my interest.

While this wasn’t the best thriller I have ever read, it certainly wasn’t the worst. I think that the premise was interesting and the writing style was decent, but if this novel had been branded differently and allowed for more introspection opportunities for the reader, I would have had different expectations from it and probably enjoyed it more. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

  1. Ah it’s a shame you didn’t like this book, Vee. It is always a little disappointing when a book that is billed as a thriller doesn’t turn out to be very thrilling…hope your next read is better!

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