The Better Liar

Tanen Jones

The Better Liar
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The Better Liar

Tanen Jones

How well do you know your family?

Estranged for a decade, sisters Leslie and Robin must reunite if they are to claim the fortune their father left them. Leslie desperately needs that money, but when she arrives at her sister’s apartment, she finds her body instead. Leslie needs another plan. Without Robin, she won’t see a penny.

Mary, an aspiring actress, spends her nights slinging beers at a seedy restaurant. She’d do anything to start her life over. When Leslie offers her a huge sum of money and the chance to be someone else - to be Robin - she takes it.

But Robin’s life isn’t as straightforward as Mary thought it would be. And Leslie seems to have secrets and a past of her own …

Told from three perspectives: Leslie, Mary, Robin.

The question is: who is the better liar?


Leslie is alone, in Las Vegas, there to collect her sister Robin. It’s been years since she’s seen Robin, but in order to get the inheritance her father promised her, both of them need to be there to sign the papers. Fifty thousand dollars each. They don’t have to reconnect; it should be easy. But when she does find her sister, she is lying in her bed, dead from an overdose. Which means she can’t sign anything. It also means Leslie will eventually inherit the entire hundred thousand herself, but eventually isn’t a word she’s interested in. But then, in a parking lot, she meets Mary.

Mary is beautiful, unhappy, and not unlike Robin. She needs some money, and now, to get out of Vegas. Suddenly, what seems far-fetched is not so ridiculous. All it would need is one box of dye and a little coaching. Nobody has seen Robin for years; if Leslie says Mary is Robin, then who would doubt her? All she needs is to come to Albuquerque and sign a piece of paper. Easy. As long as neither of them look too hard at the other, or ask too many questions about why they need so much money – and the lies they are keeping too well.

The Better Liar hooked me instantly and reeled me in swiftly, and then, to keep with my surprising fishing metaphor, flailing around helplessly waiting for the end. I’ve never been so happy to be kept in the dark, constantly unsure about what is happening in the lives of these women and those around them. This is a psychological thriller that pared back the lives of Leslie, Mary, and the younger Robin until their story left me gutted. Practise being a better liar so you can call in sick to work for this one.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at Fiona The Hardy.

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