Title: The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Dark, witty, and suspenseful, this literary crime thriller reminiscent of The Dinner and The Silent Wife follows a famous author whose wife—the brains behind his success—meets an untimely death, leaving him to deal with the consequences.
“Evil is a matter of opinion…”
On the surface, Henry Hayden seems like someone you could like, or even admire. A famous bestselling author who appears a modest everyman. A loving, devoted husband even though he could have any woman he desires. A generous friend and coworker. But Henry Hayden is a construction, a mask. His past is a secret, his methods more so. No one besides him and his wife know that she is the actual writer of the novels that made him famous.
For most of Henry’s life, it hasn’t been a problem. But when his hidden-in-plain-sight mistress becomes pregnant and his carefully constructed facade is about to crumble, he tries to find a permanent solution, only to make a terrible mistake.
Now not only are the police after Henry, but his past—which he has painstakingly kept hidden—threatens to catch up with him as well. Henry is an ingenious man and he works out an ingenious plan. He weaves lies, truths, and half-truths into a story that might help him survive. But bit by bit the noose still tightens.
Smart, sardonic, and compulsively readable, here is the story of a man whose cunning allows him to evade the consequences of his every action, even when he’s standing on the edge of the abyss.
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango is a rather clever novel about a manipulative man whose life takes a dark turn after finding out his mistress is pregnant with his baby. Henry Hayden has a somewhat disturbing past and he does not hesitate to take care of his problems in a very permanent fashion.
Henry Hayden is a bestselling mystery writer who has never written a single word. His wife Martha is actually the author, but with her blessing, he takes the credit for her work. This arrangement works out perfectly since for unknown reasons, Martha was never interested in publishing her books. Martha spends her nights writing while Henry takes care of household chores, attends book signings and goes on publicity tours. In between all of that, Henry also indulges in affairs with his editor Betty and other women he meets along the way. After Betty’s surprise pregnancy announcement, Henry runs through several possible scenarios for this very unwanted complication but he quickly discards them and he impulsively makes a decision that make matters worse for him.
Not much is knows about Henry’s past, but from the little that is revealed, it is clear that he is definitely troubled. After his father’s death and his mother’s disappearance when he was a child, he was in and out of group homes and after striking out on his own, he turned to a life of crime. There is a fairly large gap in his personal history until he meets Martha in his mid thirties and they eventually marry. After they marry, Henry lives a fairly normal life and he is well-liked by the people who know him. He is friendly, generous with his friends and gracious to his many fans. But Henry has a very sinister side that surfaces soon after learning about Betty’s pregnancy and although he still continues to be pleasant and outgoing, he is also desperate to rid himself of the complications that are plaguing him.
While the premise for The Truth and Other Lies is intriguing, the pacing of the story is incredibly slow. There are numerous shifts in perspective and these transitions in viewpoint are often abrupt and not clearly marked. Henry is a rather unreliable narrator so it is difficult to know what events are real and which are figments of his (surprisingly) active imagination. Although the characters are interesting, many of them, including Henry, are difficult to like.
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango has a very unusual plot which makes it a fascinating novel to read. There are several unexpected twists and turns and it is impossible to figure out how the story will end. The conclusion is a little ambiguous but mostly satisfying.