Book Review: The Truth And Other Lies by Sascha Arango

Title: The Truth and Other Lies

Author: Sascha Arango (Translator: Imogen Taylor)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Suspense, German

Publisher: Atria Books

Published: June 23, 2015

Page Amount: 241 pages

Goodreads Summary: Dark, witty, and suspenseful, this literary crime thriller reminiscent of The Dinner and The Silent Wife follows a famous author whose wife—the brains behind his success—meets an untimely death, leaving him to deal with the consequences. “Evil is a matter of opinion…” On the surface, Henry Hayden seems like someone you could like, or even admire. A famous bestselling author who appears a modest everyman. A loving, devoted husband even though he could have any woman he desires. A generous friend and coworker. But Henry Hayden is a construction, a mask. His past is a secret, his methods more so. But when his hidden-in-plain-sight mistress becomes pregnant and his carefully constructed facade is about to crumble, he tries to find a permanent solution, only to make a terrible mistake. He weaves lies, truths, and half-truths into a story that might help him survive. But bit by bit the noose still tightens.

Why I Read:  Like so many other books, it’s been on my to-read list for ages. Sometimes I surprise myself with how… petty I can be about getting to the ones that have been around forever. It feels like breaking a base that has been there for months, even years. It helped that this book is almost novella status. In the end, it worked for my still sadly Kindle-less existence and willingness to read for only so many pages on my phone. 

Review: From start to end, I’m still a bit uncertain when it comes to thinking back on the book. The style of writing never fails to leave some uncertainty, and if you’re looking for that feeling of confusion that come when reading a mystery: you ought to read this book. Both the writer and translator were masters of constructing these beautiful sentences. Not beautiful in the way of savoury sentences, but lovely in their length, seductive in their choice of adverbs and verbs. If there’s ever a reason to read a book for its style, then I would nominate this book.

The characters I had a bit of trouble identifying with. The main character Henry is both the sympathetic author and the mistake maker. He’s an author, but he’s a liar. Perhaps that is what makes the book so difficult to wrestle with, after the fact. Quite early on, we learn of his lies but to reconcile those with how he originally acts is difficult (at least it was for me). Thankfully there are a couple of points of view (other characters whom I won’t reveal) that make that easier. Each develops… in their own way. Normally when I talk about character development, it’s simple enough to discuss how the characters change and adapt. Then again, there’s Henry…

I found the prose actually so distracting when it came to following the plot. I would get caught up in how the paragraphs were structured and lose track of what I was reading. See that as a problem or as the mark of a stylist – take your pick. Either way, it was a pleasant companion to spend my commutes to school with. I’ll definitely pick up another book by either the author or the translator. If I’m feeling especially ambitious, then I could even get it in German (gasp!). Recommended? Again, I’m torn. Yes if you’re a fan of style and of prose-focused writing. Not so much if you can be a plot-obsessed geek like me.

Favourite quote: “I’m not interested in literature,” Martha said on the subject. “I just want to write.”

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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