A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Lying Room by Nicci French- Feature and Review


It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair….



The Lying RoomThe Lying Room by Nicci French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lying Room by Nicci French is a 2019 William Morrow Paperbacks publication.

Superb, thought-provoking thriller!

This is the first book released after the popular Frieda Klein series. Shaking off the haze of bittersweet feelings at having to say goodbye to those characters, I’m now ready to tackle a new stand- alone effort by this dynamic writing duo.

Neve’s marriage is in a rut, her family and social life is routine and predictable, although the problems with her daughter are still at the forefront of her mind. However, when she and her boss, Saul Stevenson, begin spending time together, it leads to an affair, one that quickens Neve, making her feel alive and desired for the first time in a long while. It’s all thrilling and exciting, until she receives a text message from her lover instructing her to meet up with him. When she arrives at his place, she finds Saul dead- having been beaten to death with a hammer.

With no time for proper mourning, Neve, immediately jumps into action, cleaning the place up from top to bottom hoping to wipe away any trace of her affair with Saul. She must protect her family, especially her troubled daughter, at all costs.

However, once the investigation into Saul’s death begins, Neve discovers more about her dead lover than she ever wanted to know. Not only that, Saul’s widow has reached out to her, announcing she is positive Saul was having an affair with someone at the office, asking Neve to help her find out who it was.

All of this has Neve’s nerves at a breaking point. But, when the detective working the case latches on to Neve, showing up at the most inopportune moments to ask her more questions, Neve’s lies build into a precarious house of cards.

Shocking revelations come to light about her friends, colleagues, her own family, and maybe even about Neve herself as the mystery of who killed Saul deepens. Yet the one thing Neve never considered in her all- consuming obsession to keep her affair hidden from her family and the police, is that she too might be in danger…

This is a dark, twisty thriller which takes so many little curves and travels down so many different avenues, I could never figure out who killed Saul or what direction the story would take me. The first part of the book is almost darkly humorous as Neve is constantly trying to keep her cool as nearly everyone comes to her with their confessions. She becomes so paranoid and on edge, she begins to suspect anyone and everyone in her orbit of having a motive to kill Saul- or out to get her, as well.

However, as the story approached the last quarter of the book, a much darker tone emerges, one that makes the reader very nervous on Neve’s behalf.

The atmosphere and the suspense are so taut, I was practically squirming in my chair from start to finish. However, I also found the book to be very thought provoking. How well do we really know those closest to us? The story could also serve as a type of character study, as Neve, a person who is basically honest, a person so dependable, people feel comfortable confiding in her, takes one selfish misstep, which leads to another and another. Her actions reap repercussions and regrets she never could have anticipated, which is nearly always how these things turn out- murder or no. I couldn’t help but think of the old maxim about tangled webs and deception.

The moral to the story is strong and pointed- one everyone should keep in mind if temptation ever comes knocking on your door!

4 stars






Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn't cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine's Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French. 

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