Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Lie by Petra Hammesfahr

When Susanne walked into the lift and looked at her look alike, she didn't realise that her life is going to change forever. Susanne is out of work, and borrowing (stealing) money from her mother's pension fund to eat and live. And then she meets Nadia, who looks exactly like her, the only difference is what money could buy. When Nadia suggests that they swap places for a weekend, so Nadia could get away with her boyfriend, while she plays a surly wife to her unfaithful husband, Susanne is hardly in a position to say no, she needs the money. But things are never as they seem, are they? What is Nadia playing at? Will Susanne with all her intelligence(?) escape unscathed from things she is getting into? 

The premise is not entirely new and something I have seen in umpteen movies. So the story is in the telling. And what a telling! Susanne with all her naïveté and her idea of thinking after the leap is quite a character. Susanne is somebody straight out of a Ruth Rendell book, a woman who leaves her work as a bank clerk after facing the gun in a robbery, who returns to work only to face another, ending up with a cracked skull, looking after her bedridden mother-in-law when her husband goes all over the world making his career, who gets dumped after the mother-in-law dies. Nadia sounds more canny and she is certainly up to something. So what is she up to? The first half built up nicely and there is a point where the roles are reversed, you wonder that Susanne is not all that naive nor Nadia all that canny, the story gets more tense and exciting. And you expect something to happen and it happens and after that story becomes unreal, it becomes very complicated and at one point it nearly turns into one of those love stories where the heroine pines for her man but doesn't tell him kind, luckily it turns back into the thriller kind. Only the last few pages need more convincing and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. A gripping psychological suspense! 

Translated from German by Mike Mitchell. 

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