The Lying Game

by Ruth Ware   

When fifteen- year old Isa was sent to Salten House, a last chance boarding school on the cliffs near the English Channel, she was befriended by Fatima, Thea and Kate.  They soon became inseparable and the girls taught Isa how to play The Lying Game.   

1. Tell a lie.
2. Stick to your story
3. Don\’t get caught.
4. Never lie to each other.
5. Know when to stop lying.

          The game had a complicated set of rules and the better your lie, the more points you made. If people believed your lie, you got even more points. The girls became the scourge of Salten House because of this and soon the other students began to stay away from them. They didn’t care because they had each other.

Isa was going through a difficult period. Her mother was in the hospital dying and her father sent her and her brother away because he was having difficulty coping.  Kate’s father, Ambrose, was the art teacher at Salten House. She and her father lived nearby so the girls began spending every weekend there. Kate’s house, The Mill, was located on a tidal estuary called The Reach. The girls spent their time swimming and hanging out with Luke, Kate’s step-brother.  Ambrose became like a second father to Isa. One evening, as the girls were supposed to be studying, they received a text from Kate: I need you. They quickly dressed, climbed out the window and broke the rules by leaving the school grounds to go to Kate.  Then something happened that caused the girls to be expelled from Salten House.

Seventeen years later, they receive the text that they had all been hoping would never come: I need you. The three women drop everything to leave London and go to Kate. Isa is now a mother and she takes her baby, Freya, with her. The Mill is now crumbling and falling into the sea but Kate won’t leave it. She has summoned the others to The Mill because a  body has been found buried near The Reach. The Lying Game will now take on a whole new dimension.

The Lying Game has an atmospheric, almost Gothic setting and the reader is drawn into it. I could feel the damp seeping into The Mill, the tension between the women because what happened all those years ago might be revealed and what they have to lose, if it is revealed. There are creepy, suspicious townspeople who seem to be threatening the women and is there more going on than Kate is telling them?  The reveal of what happened all those years ago, was surprising and there is another twist at the very end.

I enjoyed this book but didn’t like it as much as the author’s other two books. I thought it was a little bit slow and I really didn\’t bond with the characters that much. It has had mixed reviews but if you enjoy psychological, twisty mysteries with a strong sense of place and a focus on women’s friendships, you should give it a try.  It will soon be a movie as the movie rights have been sold.

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