The Lying Room
When Neve Connolly’s phone pings during a family breakfast, she drops everything and goes to Saul Stevenson’s pied-à-terre. At forty-five, she’s deeply embedded in what’s become a drudgery of marriage and children. Her affair with Saul makes her feel young again.
When Neve arrives, she finds Saul dead on the living room floor, brutally murdered. Terrified their affair will be found out, she scours the apartment and removes all evidence that she had ever been there. After hours of careful cleaning, Neve returns home, anxious to resume a normal life. But she can’t shake the feeling that she’s forgotten something and it begins to torment her.
Saul was her boss. His company, Redfern Publishing, has just taken over Sans Serif, a small printing company that Neve and her friends started after college. Now all of Redfern is shocked at Saul’s death. His assistant seems to know all and Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching is on the scene, asking questions and taking DNA samples.
As the story develops, readers learn that Neve and her husband, Fletcher have been struggling. Neve is the main breadwinner and Fletcher, an illustrator, can’t find work and battles depression. Their two young boys need attention and their moody daughter, Mabel may or may not go off to college.
Neve and her Sans Serif friends move in a unit and know each other’s business. Tamsin’s marriage is over. Renata drinks too much and Gary’s bitterness over the merger has changed him. At the center is Neve, the friend everyone thinks has it all together. During the investigation, she continues to play this role, but she’s cracking underneath. Hitching’s relentless questions and shocking revelations at home force Neve into a manic overdrive. A days-long party at their house with awkward overnight guests provides a look at how the characters interact with each other and the secrets they keep.
I enjoyed reading The Lying Room, a standalone book set in London. It’s much different from the other book I read by Nicci French (Blue Monday, the first in the Freida Klein series.). At first, I thought I was reading a thriller but the more I got into it I felt like it was more of a classic mystery. Scenes at the Connolly house remind me of other mysteries in which clues and motives emerge. And while the story begins with the tension of a thriller, it becomes much lighter as we learn about the characters and their lives. In addition, many references to cooking up sophisticated meals during the chaos of Neve’s nightmare give it a cozy feel. Although I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, I didn’t like all of them, but that’s okay.
Themes of marriage, friendship and motherhood play strongly in the story. The authors (yes that’s plural – it’s a husband-wife team) finish up with an exciting confrontation and a satisfying tie-up. I recommend The Lying Room to readers who enjoy lighter suspenseful mysteries.
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21 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lying Room by Nicci French”
Good review. I do like a classic mystery. I don’t always need thriller elements.
Hi Priscilla – I think there’s a glut of thrillers out there. I read a lot of them because they are an entertaining escape, but they are often forgettable. This was an interesting combination, althought I did like their other book, Blue Monday, better. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I think I’m going to add this to my wish list! Or just get it. 🙂
Oh good – sometimes you just have to do something for yourself!
Mysterious and depressing. Excellent review.
Thank you, Jacqui!
That does sound good, though I’m sad about Neve’s choices.
Love that this was a husband/wife author team! Fun!
Hi Betsy – I can’t imagine writing a book with my spouse!
True. It could either go very well, or really really poorly. 😛
I’m thinking it’s too risky!
Great review, Barbara. I’m due for a good mystery.
Hi Jill – thanks so much for stopping by. Mysteries are a good diversion and fun to figure out!
Yikes, another book I wish I could read. Adding it to the pile!
I know your pain! Thanks for visiting, Noelle 🙂
My husband and I are a team: he illustrates what I write. I don’t know how well it would work for us to be co-authors though. “Yikes!:” is my first thought. ;-O
Yes, I was thinking the same thing for myself! I don’t think I’d want to share my pen with anyone. Thanks for stopping by, Marian.
Sounds like a great mystery book — and I LOVE the last name of the main character!
Hi Donna – it’s a good last name 😉 Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Barbara, this sounds like a good read. I am not a big thriller fan but this does sound like a book I’d enjoy.
I’ve always liked stories with characters who aren’t sure what they know and who make impulsive decisions. Thanks for visiting!
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