Sunday 7 September 2014

#CBR6 Book 90: "Tell Me Lies" by Jennifer Crusie

Page count: 464 pages
Rating: 4 stars


Maddie Faraday is cleaning out her husband's car and discovers a pair of women's underpants under the seat that certainly aren't hers. This isn't the first time he's cheated on her, and she decides that enough is enough. Even though she knows her mother and much of their little town will be utterly scandalised if she files for divorce, she just cannot take it any more. That C.L, the cute guy she lost her virginity in high school has just appeared in town again, looking gorgeous and available just makes her wonder further about the wrong choices she feels she's taken in life.

As Maddie contacts a lawyer (in the town over, so it'll take longer for her snoopy mother to discover what she's done) and starts trying to gather proof of her husband's financial assets, she finds that not only was her husband cheating on her, he seems to have been cheating his clients and has huge amounts of cash in a safe deposit box in the bank, as well as passports for himself and their daughter, along with plane tickets to Brazil. Then her husband turns up dead, and Maddie is suddenly the main suspect in a murder case.

When Jennifer Crusie is good, she's very good indeed. I adore Welcome to Temptation and am very fond of Bet MeFaking It and Agnes and the Hitman. Crusie more often than not writes after a certain formula. There will be a smart-mouthed heroine, a love of food, often overbearing or controlling mothers, an adorable plot moppet and a cute, unconventional-looking dog involved in the story. The other books of hers that I've read don't tend to feature married heroines, but rather single women who find their happily ever after over the course of the book, after much hijinks has ensued.

Here, Maddie is married, but not happily so. This brings me to one of the things I wasn't all that happy with about the book. The adultery aspect. She's upset because she's caught her husband cheating, and not for the first time. Having always been the good girl, the one who does the right thing, Maddie has never done anything entirely for herself since the time she seduced C.L in high school, and then promptly broke his heart by ignoring him for the rest of their time in school. He's never been able to forget her, and is more than happy to step in and comfort Maddie when she's seething about her husband. Since Crusie suddenly decides to make this more than a farcical romp by introducing a murder in the middle of the plot, I would have been SO much happier if SPOILER! Maddie had waited until after her cheating, wife-beating piece of shit husband was dead before she decided to sleep with C.L as revenge. Two wrongs do not make a right. Cheating on your cheating spouse just makes you as bad as they are.

As well as some questionable judgement in the revenge department, Maddie exhibits some TSTL moments after her husband has been murdered, and it's clear that someone is trying to frame her for his death. Despite these plot niggles, after a somewhat slow start, where I was undecided, the book grabbed hold of me and I was pretty much unable to put it down until I got to the end. I read it the weekend I went to a friend's wedding, and actually wished I could have snuck the book with me to read during slower parts of the reception. Because of this, the book gets a full four stars. My enjoyment of the good parts were a lot greater than my annoyance at the less than great parts.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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