As I’ve mentioned many times before, one of the great things about the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is the abundance of free books by both well known and new authors. The selection within the goodie bags is quite random, so myself and the Sister often end up with different books, which means even more choice for us both to read. The Liar’s Chair was one that the Sister received which I borrowed over Christmas on her recommendation and she wasn’t wrong.
The story starts with Rachel driving home still drunk from her assignation the night before. She hits a homeless man and kills him but doesn’t call for help. She goes home to her husband David and admits what she has done. David agrees to help her cover up the crime to save their reputation. On the outside Rachel and David have the perfect marriage, a husband and wife team running a hugely successful business together, with money and a fantastic house. However as that would make a rather dull story, all is not what it seems and David is an abusive controlling man. Rachel continues to stay with him, despite his utterly appalling (but sadly not completely unbelievable) actions. Whilst also having a secret side of drink addiction and affairs which we are shown intertwined with flashbacks to her childhood which was just as unpleasant as her marriage.
The Liar’s Chair was a disturbing, yet compelling book. The main characters are all as unlikable as each other, which gives an unusual perspective to a story of domestic abuse. Whilst the husband is without doubt a vile being, I have to say I didn’t warm to Rachel either. Her actions make you want to give her a shake, although as her childhood story is explored you realise why she acts like she does. Saying that, it’s impossible not to have sympathy for Rachel and the situation that she finds herself in, whilst at the same time disliking her for it.
The writing is interesting, with a lot of description and clichés used but this didn’t distract from the story. In fact I felt that it helped increase the tension within the book and served to highlight the decline in Rachel’s mind as the guilt seemingly overtakes her. It was an incredibly claustrophobic book, with some pretty distressing scenes. Whilst the story itself was not full of shocks and unexpected twists like some crime novels, it was an excellent read that gave a different perspective to a simple hit and run story.
Once again the TOPCWF has highlighted another great author to watch out for, and I’m looking forward to finding out what will be in the goodie bags for 2015.