I think I must have heard about crime fiction author C.L. Taylor where I usually do, over Twitter. With time, I saw how some fellow bloggers praised her novels, and when I found myself browsing Waterstones Cardiff last year I came upon her novel The Lie and I bought it.
The reason to choose The Lie among Taylor’s novels was simple and easy: The story involves Jane, a young, female main character who lives in a cottage in rural Wales, works at an animal sanctuary, and has a dark past. As I was spending my last morning in Cardiff, unsure on when I could return to Wales, I decided it would be a great idea to buy something to remind of my good times there. Also if you follow me on Instragram, you know I am an animal lover and my love for The Puppy has him spoilt rotten. At first sight, The Lie seemed the perfect novel for me, and it was.
I could not put the book down from chapter 1 up until the very end. Jane Hughes has a supposedly common life in rural Wales until an anonymous person makes sure she knows her past is not buried. The back of the novel already informs readers of a dark turn in an international escape Jane and her friends embarked on five years earlier. Taylor masterfully tells both stories in first person, shifting between Jane’s present and past and making it easy for readers to follow the change in time and setting.
The present follows Jane as she tries to hide her past and rebuild her life in Wales. But the story about her past was made even more interesting by the dynamics between the four friends who embarked on the trip. As I was reading, their relationships reminded of Lena Durham’s TV show Girls, and how female friendship is achievable in a patriarchal context, yet complex. Meanwhile, the story set in the present keeps the reader interested in the past, but also in Jane’s evolution as a person. Who is she really? And what is she hiding? Is it possible to leave your past behind and start a new life?
The crime(s) in the book are outstanding, since Taylor questions what is a crime and how it should affect the people involved. Is Jane’s new life a crime? Does she have a right to create a new identity and lie to everyone in Wales about who she really is? But, things do not end there, and Taylor makes a magnificent use of crime fiction’s ability to question society by including violence towards animals as a crime that too many times goes unpunished.
The Lie is the first novel that I read by C.L. Taylor, but certainly not the last one. It is a gripping crime novel with a very interesting and complex female main character who engages in a diverse of relationships with other women (friends, mother-daughter, employer-employee). I would recommend The Lie to anyone who is looking for a page-turner and wants to be left wanting more, soon.