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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Caldwell, Laura: The Good Liar

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

Two pairs of old friends anchor Laura Caldwell's thriller The Good Liar. Thirty-something Kate, despondent after her divorce, is introduced by her friend Liza to Michael Waller, who's smart and fit and fifty-five and almost too good to be true. Kate winds up marrying Michael before she notices anything disquieting about his personality or habits: his secrecy about his job, his occasional jumpiness, his over-familiarity with Liza, with whom he was allegedly only slightly acquainted before she fixed the newlyweds up. Caldwell tells her story from multiple perspectives, mostly in the third person. We learn, before Kate does, the truth about Michael's relationship with Liza and about his job: he's an operative with a pro-American counterintelligence unit, the Trust, and he's sworn to secrecy about his missions as well as the very existence of the organization. We also meet the book's bad guy, Michael's long-time friend Roger Leiland, the Trust's new honcho and the fourth member of the book's quartet of principals. Roger has developed a lust for power and isn't about to let friendship stand in the way of his acquiring it. Kate, ignorant of these truths, is living in a very different world from the rest of the characters. This is reflected on the page: the chapters told from Kate's perspective are written in the first person. We get to watch as she slowly comes to suspect that her husband is not what he seems. We already know what she wants to know, but it's still fun to watch her put the clues together.

The Good Liar is a really good read. The plot is tight. The prose is transparent and the chapters short. Caldwell doesn't leave us hanging at the end of every chapter quite as successfully as, say, Ken Follett does: it is possible to put the book down, that is, but you won't want to if you don't have to. I love the book's spy stuff--secret drops and faux personas and the operatives' ├╝ber-competence. What prevents the book from being as successful as it might be is Caldwell's villain, who is too unrelentingly evil to be quite credible: Roger wants power because Roger wants power. The personal loss and character flaws feeding that monomania don't amount to sufficient motivation.

But I quite enjoyed the book. I'll definitely be reading more from Caldwell.

Comments

1.

Great review, Debra. I really enjoy reading your reviews whether or not the book in question is my cup of tea-- you convey very well what the book is about and what you think of it, which to my mind is what a review is "for". I think I'll put this one on my Amazon list as a result of your review.

2.

Ah, you're very kind, Maxine.

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