The Arts in Twickenham

Last month I wrote a review of Louise Fein’s debut People Like Us. This month’s column is about another local debut novelist Elizabeth Kay. Kay’s Seven Lies is a chilling thriller of dark obsession, psychological suspense and has an electrifying plot twist that will keep you turning the pages deep into a lockdown night. The story is predicated on the relationship between the narrator Jane Baxter and her best friend Marnie Gregory. No spoilers here, all I’ll say is that their complex relationship and the plot are worthy of Hitchcock. The writing is lucid in a style reminiscent of Anne Tyler’s clear and direct prose. The interior lives of Jane and Marnie are delineated expertly, but not at the expense of the engrossing story. The fine writing always services the plot! It is an incident driven novel that is told in the first person from the central character Jane’s point of view. Jane cleverly draws the reader into believing her lies. This is a story of a toxic friendship that will enthral you to the end. Seven Lies is great noir crime fiction in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. Kay and Highsmith’s theme in these respective books is that appearance and reality are very different. Jane Baxter is a wonderfully morally ambiguous creation, who is not quite what she seems.

Elizabeth Kay’s Seven Lies was published by Sphere in the UK on 16 April 2020.

Dr Richard Mills is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Popular Culture at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. Contact: richard.mills@stmarys.ac.uk