Not a full blown psychopath, Henry Hayden is nevertheless pretty darn close to being one. As a young boy he killed his tyrannical father without even meaning to. Since then he has moved on to bullying and other unempathetic acts. Now an adult, Henry has reinvented himself yet again. An accomplished liar, Henry knows that to lie well you must incorporate a certain amount of truth. He fabricates a past to suit whatever situation he finds himself in. In so doing, he is cognizant of the fact that the worst mistakes are the ones we don’t notice. Henry does sometimes feel moved by others, he sometimes does the altruistic thing. But not often. He is a sycophantic man who is a borderline sociopath.
When Henry meets Martha, he realizes he has fallen into a profitable situation indeed. Not particularly attracted to her, he nonetheless has kind feelings for her. When he discovers that she is a talented (though unpublished) novelist, he takes it upon himself to submit her book(s) to a publisher. Because Martha does not want to deal with that end of things, she agrees to letting him take the credit for the writing of them. Their lives turn successful and their lifestyle improves as a result. Still, Martha cares little for the physical trappings of success and writes obsessively during the night. She is driven and not a little bit ‘sensitive’. She can see the auras of others, she can taste colors. She is a synesthete.
When Henry’s aura gives him away, she becomes suspicious of him having an affair. She is absolutely correct. He is having it away with the editor from the publishing house. Now things have reached a turning point as the ‘other woman’ is now pregnant. Henry is appalled by this turn of events. Other than the physical attraction, he cares not at all for this other woman – and he cares even less about having a child. She must be gotten rid of!
Henry’s endeavors to get rid of her backfire, and Martha is killed in her stead. How will he get himself out of this predicament? He has a book deadline looming and his (Martha’s) latest novel is unfinished. He must deal with the consequences of his actions without impinging on his reputation or lifestyle. Will his ingenuity and cunning see him through?
“The truth and other lies” was a novel strong on characterization and filled with delightful imagery. Sascha Arango, a German television writer, has written a page-turner of a novel that entertains with dark humor and deviousness. The novel is the winner of the Prix Européen du Polar du Point, France, 2015. I’m sure this is only the beginning of it’s literary success.
Translated from the German by Imogen Taylor, “The truth and other lies” is available from Atria Books. I received the digital ARC from Penguin Canada/Viking via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This sounds unusual.
Wow, this book sounds like it’s totally different from the usual! Will have to check it out, I’m intrigued.