Title: The First Lie
Author: A.J. Park
Date of publication: June 25th 2020
Format reviewed: ebook
Source: publisher (via NetGalley)
Genre: mystery / thriller
Number of pages: 320
THE FIRST LIE
When Paul Reeve comes home to find his wife in the bathroom, bloodied and shaking, his survival instinct kicks in.
Alice never meant to kill the intruder. She was at home, alone, and terrified. She doesn’t deserve to be blamed for it. Covering up the murder is their only option.
But the crime eats away at the couple and soon they can’t trust anyone – even one another…
An opening with such a taste of urgency I could feel metal in my mouth, intrigue giving way to worry really fast. I didn’t know the characters yet but my blood was running cold. A man comes home to a dark house, his phone indicates six missed calls, there is no sound around, and his wife is nowhere to be seen. A.J. Park knows how to hook the reader with a few lines! Paul finally discovers his wife Alice upstairs. She is in shock, there is blood and a dead man in the bathroom. Ha! Take that for an opening! Let’s rewind; intrigue, worry, shock, and now… I was confused, and from that point, I knew I’d read the book in as few sittings as possible.
As you can imagine from the title, the married couple takes the heavy decision to conceal the crime. I remember tutting at this. Why?! Alice claimed it was self-defense! But things are never so clear-cut, are they? Paul is on his way to become a circuit judge and such a stain on his file would kill his chances to fulfill his dream. Alice wouldn’t survive prison. It doesn’t help that the cause of death doesn’t really look like self-defense… So I said ‘okay, let’s go with it’ I was happy I was not the one having to hide it all! It did feel as if I was teaming up with Paul and Alice as I read about their plan and how they executed it. The immersive description mixed with the intense feelings oozing from the characters made me part of it. I couldn’t escape. Neither could they. Paul’s love for his wife struck me. Would I have helped my better half hide a body? His strong presence, his reassurance, and the way he took things into his hands as he watched Alice try to make sense of what had happened made him so human, so vulnerable in his condition as a husband, that I realized I had a little preference for him.
After this first step, this first lie that no one knows, life doesn’t come back to normal. Paul does his best to pretend and despite a few moments when his mind wanders back to that night, he is not doing too bad. Alice on the other hand, has fallen into a hole of depression, guilt, and that night is eating away at her. Although I could understand her state of mind, she rapidly began to get on my nerves with her constant neediness. Paul had ‘saved the night’ but she kept resenting him for saving her, for trying hard every day to pretend all was well. What was he supposed to do?? It doesn’t happen often, I usually don’t defend husbands, but Paul is one of the exceptions!
The price for keeping such a big lie is that you have to cover it up with more lies and soon, a gap opens between Paul and Alice, each day and each new lie widening it until they both slide down their personal hell. Ensnared in their bubble of lies, trust disappears and Alice takes action to try and reclaim their life. She wants herself back, and she wants her husband back. I really began to dislike Alice and sometimes I couldn’t understand her train of thoughts or reactions. Some elements were thrown into the story to add a dangerous edge to it, but I just couldn’t make it stick with the rest. I chose to set aside my doubts and go with it.
I can’t read ‘horror’ horror because I am too much of a wimp. It doesn’t matter, because my favorite kind of horror is the real kind. The human kind. The horror we create and dive in. A.J. Park created a horror theme park for Alice and Paul, and their only way out might be their love for each other…
The more I neared the end, the more I felt for Paul, and while I won’t reveal a thing about what happens, I must say I thought a lot about the author’s choice. I decided that it was the best way to end this novel, and leave the remains of the protagonists’ mistakes behind.
The First Lie is a well-plotted psychological thriller which perfectly depicts the toxicity of a lie, and the twists of fate.
Here’s a link to the book! Remember, it’s out tomorrow! June 25th!
I would like to thank Alex and Orion for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.
A.J. Park is the author of The First Lie, published by Orion Fiction. The paperback will be released on June 25th 2020. A second psychological thriller will arrive in July 2021. The translation rights to The First Lie have been sold to publishers in Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
A.J. Park’s real name is Karl Vadaszffy. Karl Vadaszffy is the author of three novels: The Missing, which was twice a Kindle top ten bestseller in the UK, peaking at number 6, as well as a number one bestseller in Australia, Sins of the Father and Full of Sin. He is also a freelance journalist and the Head of English at a secondary school in Hertfordshire.
Find out more about A.J. Park/Karl at http://www.karlvad.com
Follow him on Twitter: @AJParkauthor and @KarlVad