Century | 2020 (30 April) | 448p | Review copy | Buy the book
Laura is a director in an advertising agency and she lives for her work and her clients. That all changed when she had a baby. She had thought that six months’ maternity leave would be enough but when the time comes for her to go back to her job she discovers it wasn’t nearly long enough. But her husband has given up his lesser paid job to be a stay at home dad and now they need her income. So she goes back to the office only to discover that Mia, her maternity cover, has more than got her foot under the door. She cannot be budged and suddenly Laura feels far from secure. But why won’t Mia leave when she had insisted that she had to move on at the end of the six months? And why does something feel not quite right about her? Is it just envy and hurt making Laura feel this way? Mia isn’t alone in not wanting Laura to return. Janie, the wife of Harry the boss, who gave up her high powered courtroom career to support her husband, doesn’t trust Laura and trusts Harry even less. And she has a secret that she wants none of them to discover.
Two months after Laura’s return, a fire devastates the office buildings. All three women are the police’s chief suspects and each is questioned along with their colleagues. DC Emily Marlow knows that they’re all lying to her. But which of them started the fire?
Three Perfect Liars is a stand alone psychological thriller that I could not put down. This isn’t often the case for me, especially at the moment, but I was so easily able to lose myself in this story. I had thought before beginning that the fact that the committed crime is arson might not be enough to hold my attention but this was totally unfounded. The crime is an intriguing one and sets the frame for the story but the heart of this book is not about the fire itself but about the relationship between these three women, Laura, Mia and Janie. And I found all three of them so beautifully drawn by Heidi Perks and I was invested in all three.
Laura is a fantastic creation and it’s so easy to feel for her situation. I’ve been on the other side, covering maternity leave twice and there are elements of this that can be quite difficult, and it’s impossible not to sympathise with Laura who feels that the ground has been swept from under her feet while, on the other hand, she longs to do nothing more than spend time with her son and husband. The situation threatens both her sanity and her marriage. But Mia isn’t the baddie of the piece. She has her own story to tell and the more we get to know her the more we feel for her, too. The same with Janie. The secrets that each hides are deeply involving for the reader, exploring the burdens that some people must bear and hide.
Harry is at the centre of these women’s lives, for good and bad, and everything revolves around him. He is nothing like the women. He is weak, vain and seemingly intentionally obtuse. His life is the contrast to those of the women, including his wife. He surrounds himself by men. Laura was the only female director on the company’s board. There is a culture in his firm that isn’t good.
The novel moves between Laura, Mia and Janie and regularly through the pages are the typescripts of Marlow’s interviews with Harry’s employees. This is brilliantly done and really upped the intrigue and the pace. Everything moves forward, compellingly, until the night of the fire.
I’ve enjoyed Heido Perks’ novels before. She writes very well and creates wonderful characters. Without a doubt, though, Three Perfect Liars is her best to date and I can thoroughly recommend it.
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