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by Amy Tinterra
Celadon Books, March 2024
ISBN: 1250880319

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I had a million things to do when I started an advanced-reader copy of LISTEN FOR THE LIE, thinking it was a safe read that I could skim here and there and put down without regret when my to-do list was calling. I was very, very wrong. On the first page, I thought I knew what I was getting into: an unreliable narrator with an "edgy" sense of humor who was probably an unlikeable murderer, and the podcaster who can't decide whether to turn her in or sleep with her. But as I moved on to page two and beyond, I realized that author Amy Tintera was doing something unique. LISTEN FOR THE LIE is one of those magical reads that delivers one surprise after another and keeps you reading well into the night (when you really should be doing other things...).

Lucy Chase just lost her job, is about to lose her boyfriend, and is headed back to her hometown to hide out with her parents who are, at best, challenging to be around. Why is she going? She's long been suspected of murdering her best friend Savvy—though the police weren't able to dig up enough proof for an arrest—and the once-cold case has just become the subject of a hit true-crime podcast. But when she arrives in her parents' small Texas community, she realizes home may not have been the best locale in which to shelter in place. Because smugly good-looking podcast host Ben Owens is in town looking for answers.

Lucy might start out unlikeable, but it didn't take long for me to realize there was so much more to her character than well-worn tropes. Her penchant for inappropriate outbursts of dark humor masks real trauma. And her tendency to envision murdering everyone she meets with whatever makeshift weapons happen to be at hand is her way of constantly interrogating whether she really did have it in her to murder her best friend. Because Lucy doesn't remember anything about that night. One minute, she and Savvy were hanging out at a wedding, and the next, she was stumbling out of the woods with a head injury and her friend's blood on her torn dress. The harder she tries to recall the details, the fuzzier and more faraway her memories get.

So Lucy does something that startles the local gossips, the podcast audience, and Ben Owens himself—she plunks down next to Ben in the town diner and agrees to help him figure out who killed Savvy. Is she really offering selfless assistance? Is she genuinely suffering from trauma-induced amnesia, with the identity of the real killer buried deep in her mind? Or is she a sociopath inserting herself into the investigation to toy with Ben and the police? Tintera will have you firmly on Lucy's side one minute and certain that she's the killer the next—and you'll be reading into the wee hours of the night to find answers.

I used to read a lot of thrillers, but I tend to avoid them now since I find a lot of them to be predictable let-downs. I'm not sure what possessed me to pick up LISTEN FOR THE LIE, but I'm so glad I did. Tintera's masterful page-turner brought me back to my long-time love for an edge-of-your-seat read. With deep characterization, laugh-out-loud dialogue, and a chilling crime with plenty of delicious misdirection, YA author Amy Tintera's adult debut is one of my favorite suspense reads in years.

§ Tracy Fernandez Rysavy teaches literature and writing for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and edits romance fiction for an indie publisher. She is the former editor-in-chief of the Green American magazine.

Reviewed by Tracy Fernandez-Rycavy, December 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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