Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today is Patry Francis's Day. She's undergone chemo for an aggressive form of cancer, and is battling hard. The prognosis is good, thank God.
More than 300 authors and literary industry folks are devoting today to promote Patry's fantastic book. See my review, below.

Title: The Liar’s DiaryAuthor: Patry Francis
Publisher: Dutton
Publisher's Address: 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN-10: 0525949909
ISBN-13: 978-0525949909
Price: $16.47
Publisher phone number and/or website address: http://www.penguin.com/
Author’s website: http://www.patryfrancis.com/index2.htm
Author’s blog: http://simplywait.blogspot.com/

The Liar’s Diary

by Patry Francis
Review by Aaron Paul Lazar

The Liar’s Diary, a psychological suspense novel by debut author Patry Francis, should be tooled in fragrant red leather with gilt edges, and placed on your bookshelf in a place of honor.

Be forewarned. When you buy it, allow for an uninterrupted block of time. Forget sleep. The lure of The Liar’s Diary is strong, for it will call your name incessantly, and your dreams will be filled with Ms. Francis’s characters long after you’ve reached the end of this riveting new work.

Full of subtle, twisting truths that bob and weave in a surf of lies, The Liar’s Diary is like a fragile raft on a swelling sea of denial. Carefully selected truths are masterfully revealed as we are thrust into the life of high school secretary Jeanne Cross. The raft soars higher – just enough to almost peer over the whitecaps. Jeanne glimpses half-truths so disturbing she retreats into the safety of her compulsively ordered life. Disoriented and in psychological turmoil, we twist and weave in yet another direction beside her, constantly on edge and guessing until the final page.

Jeanne strives to be the dutiful wife, mother, housekeeper, nurturer, and employee. But we quickly learn her perfect life is built on a severely cracked foundation. Gavin Cross, the debonair doctor husband, is a controlling father who bullies his son, feeding an explosive eating disorder that sends Jamie Cross to chocolate for relief. Scenarios of mockery escalate, with full blame for Jamie’s lack of academic success laid squarely at Jeanne’s feet. In her picture perfect house, we soon discover a supremely unhappy woman who lives in suburban hell, trying to defend her beloved son and keep peace in the dysfunctional family.

Enter Ali Mather, the new music teacher at Jeanne’s school who flounces into Jeanne’s staid world of responsibility with flowing strawberry blond hair, fragrant perfumes, and tight jeans, enticing the high school boys and male teachers, and providing hours of juicy gossip for the rest of the staff. Ali, flamboyant, passionate, and unabashedly sexy, is the antithesis of sedate, controlled Jeanne. Yet, through a circumstance not fully understood, Jeanne is drawn to Ali like a powerful narcotic.

Ali, married to George Mather, a most perfect husband, has issues of her own. Unresolved childhood traumas send her into the arms of two men in Jeanne’s town, shocking the quiet community. George, strangely forgiving and still madly in love with his philandering wife, cuts a figure of loving forgiveness. As Ali embraces her hedonistic experiences, including an affair with the school shop teacher half her age, Jeanne reacts with simultaneous repulsion and fascination.

But someone is stalking Ali, entering her home and leaving subtle reminders of their presence. Is it one of her lovers? A student? A jealous wife? Her music is desecrated, personal items disappear, but the police don’t take her seriously. Jeanne struggles to help her friend overcome her fears and abandoned relationships, just when Ali’s diary disappears and people start to die.

The story twists into another realm, shocking the reader multiple times, surging higher now with dark half-truths. Jeanne’s son is accused of ungodly crimes, and it’s up to her to uncover the facts. She must discover who’s lying, in order to save her son.

Patry Francis is a gifted deep thinker who knows people and paints them well.
Her writing style is engaging and smooth going down – like a big bowl of lime sherbet. First time novelists often try too hard, peppering their prose with ostentatious adverbs and adjectives. But Ms. Francis’s writing focuses on the compelling story as the movie plays in your head with a clever appreciation of the craft.

I highly recommend The Liar’s Diary to anyone who enjoys a good suspense, mystery, or psychological thriller.

1 comment:

Terri Molina said...

Wonderful review, Aaron. And if I weren't already set to buy the book, this would certainly have me waiting in line at Borders!