Lisa Unger’s novel Beautiful Lies, the first installment in the two-book Ridley Jones series, is a thriller/mystery.
The story follows Ridley Jones through a maze of lies she has recently uncovered about her life. She faces dangerous obstacles and is nearly killed on various occasions. Action-packed and for the most part fast-paced, Unger has written an exciting novel for lovers of the genre.
Ridley’s narrative tends to go on tangents about her ideas on philosophical issues. For example: how the choices we make affect our lives. These moments in the novel are often long-winded and unsettling for the reader, since it distracts him/her from the flow of the story.
Unger does make Ridley extremely realistic, however, by having her question not just herself, but the reader as well. By utilizing this technique, Unger is adding to the air of mystery, confusion, and lack of trust that the protagonist feels in her altered world. If Ridley can’t trust anyone around her anymore, should the reader trust what s/he is being told? We are guided by an imperfect, untrusting protagonist who wants us to partake, and perhaps, aid in her search for the truth.
Though very passionate and informative at times with anecdotes about Ridley’s past memories sneaking up on her, or the use of Carl Jung to emphasize a point, Unger sometimes takes too long to get to her point. I understand that this is a thriller and it is necessary for the reader to be reeled in, but on occasion the story feels long and tedious. This is especially true of the first half of the novel. Unger attempts to build anticipation with her dragged on introduction, but instead makes it feel drawn out.
The good news is that the second half of the novel is exactly what the reader hopes for in a thriller. The action and passion that Ridley and her male love interest experience is riveting. Whatever fleeting thoughts the reader had of abandoning the book are quickly forgotten as the suspenseful story takes him/her to an intense finale.
Of course, questions are left unanswered and will most likely appear as motivation for Ridley in the second installment.
Beautiful Lies is a novel full of deception, surprises, and is action-heavy as the conclusion nears. Those who love a descriptive storyline and an engaging protagonist will most likely enjoy Lisa Unger’s novel.