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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Lies She Told

by Cate Holahan

Quick take

"When bodies begin to appear on the pages of her book as well as in Liza’s 'real’ life, will she be able to distinguish between what is actual reality and what is fiction?"


From the publisher:

Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Cole has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing her down in both her professional and her personal lives, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine, Beth.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the same river and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

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Why I love it

Great authors "write what they know.'" But when an author writes about murder, things can get a bit squirrely. In Lies She Told, the protagonist seeks to revive her literary career by writing a hot new thriller. But as the plot she writes begins to blur with her own life, the reader is left to sort out what’s true, and what are lies. After all, who doesn’t love a "book within a book"—especially when they’re both thrillers.

It has been years since Liza Cole has known success in the literary world, and her publisher has given her one more shot at redemption. Meanwhile, Liza’s personal life is also falling apart. After multiple failed fertility treatments, she and her husband David find themselves cracking from the emotional strain. David’s answer is to drown himself in his work at the law firm while Liza puts her last hope for a baby on a controversial hormone experiment. With her book deadline looming and the hormone treatment causing alarming side effects, Liza starts to slowly unravel.

Lies She Told is also an interesting examination of a writer and her craft. Holahan delves into the writing process and explores where author inspiration comes from and how creating a story can often take on a life all its own. I absolutely loved the dynamic between Liza and her protagonist, and how both their stories are packed with crazy plot twists. The writing is smart, and the way the stories blend together is a testament to Holahan’s own skill as an author. Liza’s notion that to be a writer is to be a "con artist" and "a life thief" was never far from my mind as I began to wonder how much of her story was indeed a con and how much was truth.

Pour a glass of wine and immerse yourself in the parallel worlds of Liza and Beth. Pay attention, dear reader, as the two stories merge into one. When bodies begin to appear on the pages of her book as well as in Liza’s "real" life, will she be able to distinguish between what is actual reality and what is fiction? Will you?

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Member ratings (3,579)

  • Reilly B.

    New York City, NY

    I loved this book because it keeps you guessing, and the line between “reality” and “fiction” becomes blurred. Ending seems plausible in our modern society, so I enjoyed everything!

  • Andrea H.

    Edmonds, WA

    A great suspense thriller with unreliable narration. This book kept me guessing throughout. A quick read, with chapters alternating from the narrator’s real life and the novel she’s currently writing.

  • Cammie S.

    Jacksonville, IL

    A unique thriller with two stories in one, sort of. Liza is a woman struggling to have a family & struggling to write another best-selling novel. The chapters alternate between Liza‘s life and book.

  • Tony C.

    Dallas, TX

    To say I was not sure the outcome until the last page is an understatement. Great pacing and suspense. Cate Holahan could have dragged this book out, but it was a quick, compact read that I devoured.

  • Skky C.

    Fountain, CO

    You think you figured it out and you didn't! The book within the book lead me in the wrong direction and made me feel like the main character is delusional. do we really know what happened? Epilogue?