Book Club: One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline has won multiple awards with her scads of novels (at least 28) and has been published all over the world. Her novels are good fodder for thriller television and fill series and she has been optioned on several. This new book, published 2017, is a complicated thriller about Chris Brennan, recently hired high school teacher and coach, although the reader quickly finds out everything about him is a lie. WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

For me, this story broke a cardinal rule. While it is fine, and even great, to mislead a reader and then pull the rug out with a surprise reveal, this story went three distinct directions. Instead of a reveal it felt like the author had combined three book ideas without much thought to transition and intertwining. I felt the book was a surface development of characters, with clues and foreshadowing that quickly took left turns or disappeared all together. I might try some of Scottoline’s early books to see if this is her signature trait, or this is just what happens when you have written so many books. You can’t make a character so blatantly the bad guy and suddenly make him the hero without some sort of buildup or clue.

Others in the book club, with many of us working in the field of education, commented on the very poor research for this novel. The things that went on in the high school were so far outside the range of believability, that actual disgust was voiced among the group. We have been fingerprinted and scanned and had our credentials examined so often that we knew he would never have been hired “on the spot”. The dynamics and events which occurred also were not well researched…things just don’t happen the way the author described. The biggest question was “what? Infiltrate a high school because of a cap in a video?”….just not going to happen.  No recommendation or stars for this one! (A few members had read other books by this author and said they were much better.)