“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
The themes that appear in books are usually a reflection of what is happening in society at large, so it’s no surprise in these days of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ the fine line between truth and lies is being stretched to its limits. Beginning with the publication of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, there has been an explosion of thrillers and mysteries with a central narrator who may or may not be telling the truth. Sometimes, the characters may not actually know the truth due to amnesia, injury or impairment; and sometimes, the truth the character tells has been manipulated by others. Finally, the narrator may be carefully orchestrating the circumstances to carefully craft a ‘truth’ of their own making. The effect on the reader, with a well written story, is a small chill, a sense of unease, the urge to ferret out the truth, followed by the need to read another similar thriller.
Going through the latest bestseller lists, it’s striking to see how often the words, lie, lies and liars, come up in both fiction and non-fiction. Truth & Lies: What People are Really Thinking by Mark Bowden and Tracey Thomson and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are are two recent non-fiction titles receiving a lot of press but they are polar opposites in their approach to the truth. Bowden and Thomson are focused on how we can use body language to discover the secrets of others while developing the habits of a false front to fool others into believing the image we wish them to see. Stephens-Davidowitz’s book examines why we lie to both ourselves and others, how both the truth and lies are being used by the internet and big business to control our decisions and the best way that we as a society can reclaim our ‘truth’.
Flipping over to fiction, it’s easy to find more doses of dishonesty. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney features a woman named Amber who wakes up in hospital, aware of her surroundings but seemingly in a coma. Amber knows that her husband is somehow involved in what happened to her, but she can’t remember why. Trapped in her body, Amber must piece together the truth.
Author Mary Kubica’s new book ponders the question, ‘What would you risk to find out the truth?’. In Every Last Lie, Clara Solberg’s world is destroyed when her husband Nick dies in a car crash, fortunately her four-year-old daughter, Maisie escaped unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident, but when Maisie begins having night terrors and memories that don’t match the official version of the accident, Clara feels compelled to find the truth. Told in alternating views between Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last month’s before the crash, the story suggests that some secrets might be better left alone.
Tell Me Lies by Rebecca Muddiman begins as an open-and-shut case when Lauren James’s ex-boyfriend is found dead in her back garden, her jeans soaked in blood and mud. Her father, though, is a self-made millionaire who might do anything to protect his daughter including buying the truth he wants.
When police officer, Gemma Monroe responds to a vandal call at a local private high school she discovers the mutilated body of a man in the snow and a horrifying message that this will be the first of many; so begins Emily Littlejohn’s new thriller A Season to Lie. The victim is a world famous author and his presence in Cedar Valley was supposed to be a secret. Was this a targeted killing or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time and who is going the killer’s next victim?
Fact or fiction, truth or lies, the choice is yours.
Lori Kauzlarick – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!