Two Minute Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Title: Liars, Inc.
Author: Paula Stokes
Genre: thriller, mystery
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: expected March 24, 2015
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Liars, Inc. is a convoluted story that makes for an entertaining read. It's a fast-paced and twisty ride; one full of surprises and revelations, sordid histories and coverups. Stokes does an admirable job of keeping the central mystery a secret by throwing out enough dead end leads and red herrings to keep the ending just as explosive as promised. It's one of those rare books that lives up to the "thrillride" label that so often pops up in the mystery and thriller genre.

Riding along for a few days in Max's head helps keep the story immediate and inescapable. His POV is distinct and believable. Even when he makes bad decisions, you can understand how and why he ended up doing so. That isn't to say Max isn't a frustrating character at times, but Stokes ably captured the feeling of what a teenage boy might think and act in such a situation. Max had a somewhat unusual background for a YA character - orphaned, on the streets, a foster kid, and an adoptee - which I appreciated.

That said, the characterization is pretty minimal. I liked what I saw from Parvati -- she's driven and smart, uncompromising, half-Indian -- but she always remains a background character; never entirely on the same playing field as Max or Preston (even in absentia.) The parents of the story are also vaguely realized. Some of the decisions Darla, Max's adoptive mom, made seem to stretch suspension of disbelief, especially once the stakes get raised later in the novel. 

All in all, Liars, Inc. is a pretty solid mystery/thriller for the YA genre. It grabs your attention and rarely relents. It doesn't go for the obvious plays and keeps the mystery fresh. If the level of suspense isn't quiiite what it could be, well, it's still a fun and a rousing read.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry it didn't quite hit the mark for you! But isn't that cover pretty snazzy? :D
    Jackie @ No Bent Spines


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