As I read through, I am enthused to see in Searle a scribe who can pen a (somewhat) memoir-like piece of long, (recent) historical fiction, with the panache of an old gentleman such as Graham Greene.
UHQ-literary style is a rarity in thriller fiction today; Banville could be cited as an example, but his novels – if thrillers at all, and some involve murder and conspiracy – are finely wrought outliers.
There is action in The Good Liar – not frenetically paced, much of it well timed to be surprising – and certainly more than enough violence to punctuate the humorous or cogent discussions of and meditations on infirmity, duping, history and politics.
I found the Grumpy Old Man at the novel’s core to be somewhat endearing; he has much of the same shtick as a typical moaner.
Searle’s work matches style with great plotting. Dickensian-Gothic elements permeate a prewar Nazi Germany rife with Trumplike hate, and a catfishing scam artist many decades later as the protagonist who claims no interest in history, as what’s past is past.
But elderly Roy has played a greater part in post-war Europe’s reconstruction than he cares to admit. Beyond a superb plot, the book is a rivetting character analysis of how Roy – through his history – comes to be the grumpy old manipulator we are presented with at the novel’s opening.
A reader might ask: “Are some people born nasty?” It’s a determination that is difficult to figure out.
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