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Book Review: White Lies by Jeremy Bates

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White Lies by Jeremy Bates tells the timeless story that all mothers impart to their children: “you tell one lie and you’ll end up telling another lie to support it.” That it is always better to tell the truth because you’ll remember the truth but eventually find yourself over your head when you tell a lie.

The story starts with thirty-ish English teacher Katrina, driving through a ‘dark and stormy night,’ picks up a young hitchhiker who turns out to be drunk and proves to be the epitome of the reason young women shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers. He acts predatory, makes lewd remarks, seems to be paying inappropriate attention to her and displays misogynistic tendencies. Fearful for her safety, Katrina lies about her destination in order to get him out of the car. Continuing on her journey, she arrives at her destination and begins the process of settling in.

Then to her surprise and dismay she discovers on the first day on the new job that the hitchhiker is a new coworker, the somewhat brilliant philosophy teacher who, though respected for his knowledge and ability to teach, is a well-known drunkard, even on the job.

With its Hitchcock-like overtones, White Lies falls into the psychological thriller genre. When the hitchhiker/fellow teacher suspects she was lying about living at the lake, she tells him it’s her vacation house. After all, she doesn’t have to rely on just her meager teacher’s salary to live on–her mother left her well-off. But when he continues to challenge her, she spouts off that she is going to have a party at the lake house and invite all the teachers.

Soon Katrina meets a tall, dark, and handsome man who is just passing through town, and they develop a romance. He encourages her to go ahead with the party, that she can rent a cabin easily. But soon, Katrina finds herself caught up in the net of having to tell more lies, and it gets easier. Then it catches up with her with a vengeance. When the ever-expanding web of lies lands Katrina as a witness to a murder, she must decide to come clean or to abet the cover-up.

White Lies is fast-paced and will appeal to readers of both sexes. The plot is somewhat familiar but the deeper it gets into the story it begs the reader to suspend belief as some of the situations and the protagonists’ reaction to them go against a character’s development within the story. To complicate matters, a number of supporting characters are more like caricatures and seem to exist only to color the scenery. A bevy of drunken teachers cavorting in the dark around the lake as they are ignorant of a fight, a murder, and violent arguments going on around them seem like scenes lifted from a B-movie. And Katrina’s love interest seems totally out of character as she learns more and more about her lover’s dark past, which is somewhat fantastical in itself.

Still, the scenery and sense of place make for a darkly drawn story and the action moves right along. The climax finally gives pause to answer the question of when a “white lie” turns bad: what do good people do?

White Lies

  • Paperback: 280 pages Publisher: Oceanview Publishing (May 7, 2012)
  • Language: English ISBN-10: 1608090485 ISBN-13: 978-1608090488
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    About The Dirty Lowdown

    I was born in Pomona, California at a very young age. I had a pretty normal childhood…or I was a pretty normal child hood if mom is telling the story. I was a paperboy and washed cars. I was a soda fountain jock-jerk and a manic mechanic but my first real job was as a labor organizer in a maternity ward. Then, because of the misjudgment of a judge I spent nearly 10 years in the service of our country mostly on KP duty. Our country sure turns out a lot of dirty dishes. I am a past master at pots and pans. They eventually recognized my real talent and let me wander around some very unfriendly places carrying a big radio that didn’t work. Along the way I took up the bass guitar, jotting down stories, electronic engineering and earned a degree in advanced criminal activities. I spent most of my adult life, if you can call it that, working in the I.T. industry, which I was particularly suited for since we worked in rooms with no windows. On and off I taught in colleges, universities and reform schools as a student teacher… I like smog, traffic, kinky people, car trouble, noisy neighbors, and crowded seedy bars where I have been known to quote Raymond Chandler as pickup lines. I have always been a voracious reader, everything from the classics, to popular fiction, history to science but I have a special place in my heart for crime fiction, especially hard-boiled detective fiction and noir. I write a book and music review blog for all genres at The Dirty Lowdown. And another dedicated to Crime Fiction and all things Noir called Crimeways. It’s named after the magazine that appeared in the Kenneth Fearing classic, The Big Clock. There I write scholarly reviews of the classic hard boiled, noir and crime fiction books from the 20's through today. Mostly I drool over the salacious pictures on the covers. I also write for Tecnorati/BlogCritics where i am part of a sinister cabal of superior writers.