The First Lie by A J Park

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The First Lie by A J Park

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: When Paul Reeve returned home one night and found his wife in a state of shock and a dead man in the bathroom he made a decision as to what he would do. Would you have done the same thing?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: June 2020
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-1409187431

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On the second of October 37-year-old barrister, Paul Reeve, returned home at 9 pm to find his house in darkness and the front door open. His wife was in the bedroom in a state of shock and in the bathroom there was a dead man who had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck with Paul's paper-knife. In that moment Paul takes a decision that will be irrevocable: he decides that he and Alice are not going to ring the police and tell the truth. They're going to bury the body in woodland and go on as though nothing has happened.

I'd have gone to the police and so I suspect (and hope) would most people, so everything that happened after this point had a feeling unreality for me. Paul's reasoning was that Alice was mentally frail, but - and I felt this was more important to him - he'd applied to be a circuit judge. If he got the job he'd be the youngest ever and that was important to him. So, he and Alice went on a nightmare journey and disposed of the body. For the most part, with a busy professional life, Paul is able to put what has happened behind him, particularly when that promotion comes through. But Alice, who doesn't have a job, is not so fortunate. The death, the burial, play on her mind.

It's then that we meet DS Katherine Wright and DC Ryan Hillier of the Major Incident Team and they're going to take us back four weeks to the fourth of September when they're called to the home of 37-year-old Richard Dollard who has been garroted with piano wire in his home. Apart from all the blood that's around, it's a very clean crime with no clues left at the scene. A week later, Ethan Fleming, another 37-year-old is killed in the same way - and he won't be the last.

I worked out very early on what had happened and why, with regard to the murders and I read with a feeling of just wanting the police to get on with it. What I didn't foresee was just how fragile Alice's mental state would become and how she would react to the events around her. There was a natural knock-on to Paul, already struggling with a case which has produced some unwelcome memories and Alice's problems. There's a consolation at hand though - and he's quick to take advantage. The downward spiral becomes ever steeper...

I enjoyed the read, to the extent that I found it difficult to put down and finished it in under twenty-four hours. If you enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you'll probably like The First Lie more than I did because I couldn't finish Gone Girl - I found Amy just too annoying and couldn't understand Nick's motivations. In The First Lie I never really got past the fact that Paul was a barrister, used to forensically analysing a situation and making rational decisions quickly as well as being good enough to become a circuit judge, but in his private life, he was, well, injudicious. I'd still like to thank the publishers for letting me have a review copy. You might also enjoy 55 by James Delargy.

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