Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Liar's Room

When Adam Geraghty walks into Susanna Fenton's office for a therapy session, she can't shake the feeling that she knows him. It's unsettling, as Susanna reinvented her life 14 years ago and maintains no connection to the woman she used to be. Though she tries to be as honest as possible in every other way, not even her daughter, Emily, knows anything about her previous life, and she's determined to keep it that way. As Adam's questions become more intimate, then threatening, Susanna realizes that Emily is in danger, as well as her own carefully constructed identity. While Susanna tries to outthink Adam before it's too late, readers learn more about her tragic past--a troubled son, a checked-out husband, a public scandal--and try to figure out exactly how close Adam might be to it.

The Liar's Room by Simon Lelic (The New Neighbors) is a well-paced, plot-driven thriller that examines family dynamics and the human tendency to place blame. Susanna's new career as a counselor seems like a way to correct her past and reconcile with her guilt, hoping now to help others if she couldn't help her son. Lelic asks readers to consider to what extent a parent is culpable for her child's actions, and he examines how women are often vilified by the media's desire for a scapegoat. As the novel progresses, what is revealed becomes increasingly darker and more disturbing, though not gratuitous, resulting in a compelling and thoughtful read. --Katy Hershberger, freelance writer and bookseller