Take a brilliant plot concept, populate it with complex and relatable characters, then wrap it all in an intimate writing style that is equal parts ‘heart’ and ‘head’ and the result is Why We Lie – one of the first truly-great suspense novels of 2019. This is a book that dares to look at the truth behind the art of lying and exposes its value to humanity, society, and individual sanity.
Amy Impellizzeri’s Why We Lie provides a glimpse into Washington DC political culture from the inside out. Jude and Aby Birch seem like the perfect DC citizens. Jude is a political powerhouse congressman who has only just begun to wield the influence his station brings. His wife Aby is well respected at the nonprofit where she is employed. Within this mix is also the campaign manager, Laila Rogers, who seems to know more about this couple than her role mandates.
When Jude is shot during what seems to be gang-related violence, his injuries change the course of all their lives. Jude’s doctor tells Aby that because of the brain damage from the bullet’s trajectory, Jude will never again be able to tell a lie. This may seem innocuous enough, but honestly, what is the role of a politician who cannot manipulate the truth to suit his own agenda? Not to mention those little white lies that make everyday existence bearable? And more importantly, what if secrets within a marriage are so explosive that no one wants them exposed?
In our era of “fake news,” Why We Lie is timelier than ever. Impellizzeri chooses to end many of the chapters with excerpts from a “truth only” newspaper called The Washington Truth, which adds more layers of complexity to the narrative. Another element keeping this book relevant is a plot-line that documents how the campaign financing becomes entangled with some social media apps and the fallout from such actions.
Why We Lie is a book where maintaining the element of surprise is vital to its success. Amy Impellizzeri cleverly crafts her narrative to keep the secrets intact throughout. She manipulates the reader in ways that only become apparent once the truth is revealed – and that is an extraordinary thing. Telling the story of the Birch’s courtship from first accidental meeting to marriage, then into their political run through to the tragic shooting and beyond seems like a ton to squeeze into a novel that runs well under 300 pages, but Amy Impellizzeri has a blueprint and follows that plan effortlessly without a wasted moment along the way.
A suspense novel built around an insider’s view of political campaigns and marriage might at first seem like an unlikely pairing of topics, but readers know that character motivations have to ring authentic regardless of what aspects of that person’s life is being examined. Impellizzeri has found a way to weave a thread through both the professional and personal lives of her characters and readers will be mesmerized. Why We Lie is a excellent read that tackles many of the most controversial hot-button elements of our modern existence.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.