“The King of Lies” by John Hart

The King of Lies My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jackson Pickens–better known was “Work”–is a lawyer in a North Carolina, who seems to have the perfect life–good job, bright future, beautiful and devoted wife. But if you scratch just below the surface things aren’t quite as ideal as they appear.

A little over a year ago, his mother died suddenly and his father disappeared. Work and his sister Jean know what happened that evening but neither one is willing to come forward and tell the full truth–until his father’s body shows up at a local abandoned mall. Suddenly the past is coming back to haunt everyone and Work becomes the prime suspect in his father’s murder. Of course, the fact that he stands to inherit $15 million from his father might have something to do with it.

“The King of Lies” starts off with an intriguing hook with Work reflecting on the nature of prison and how it changes people, only to quickly descend into a fairly straight-forward mystery that is full of red herrings and false leads. The story works because the narrative centers on the first-person perspective of Work and while we know Work is innocent of this crime, it doesn’t make it innocent of other things, including having an affair, hating his father and having a hand in covering up the murder of his mother.

The story works well enough for the first half of the book, but once all the suspects are in play, it works too hard to bring in red herring after red herring before finally revealing the true killer and motive. It’s all set up well, but by the time you get to the revelation, it seems like just another plot twist for the sake of a plot twist.

Which is a bit of shame since until the mid-way point, “Lies” is an enjoyable enough legal thriller mystery that had me curious and guessing about the real secrets that lay lurking under the surface. It’s too bad the questions end up being more interesting the answers.

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