Bookxpert Rating : 3/5
Genre : Psychological Thriller
He moved closer to Kevin and pressed the barrier more firmly to his head. “You can’t kill me, Peyton.”
“Drop the gun right now or you’re dead.”
“You can’t do it.”
“You won’t. Because you love me.”
With that, she found the power within her.
Rudy’s finger twiched on the trigger, and Peyton reacted. The whole room seemed to erupt as her gun discharged in a single loud clap.
Usually just one psycho is enough to land us in a confused mess in a psychological thriller. Like in Gone Girl. Well, in ‘Lying With Strangers’ we have two!
This thriller by James Grippando is so gripping, I completed the over 400 page book in a single day!
We have a very attractive and successful young woman, well on the road to becoming a doctor, Peyton; and her husband-hotshot lawyer and budding author, Kevin starring. Then there’s also a crazy stalker, an ex-lover, lots of lawyers, prosecutors, media, and lies upon lies upon lies.
The book starts off with a bang, with Peyton’s crazy stalker picking the lock of her apartment. Just to try out if it worked.
Gloves on, he reached inside his pocket for the house key. It had been easy enough to get it. Peyton’s husband valeted his car at the same restaurant every Thursday and was stupid enough to hand over his whole set of keys. Rudy had taken a job there just long enough to trace the key to their front door.
Rudy, Peyton’s crazy stalker, has dozens of photographs of Peyton taken at very close range(which is normal for a psycotic stalker to be honest); he has maintained a diary containing basically everything there is to know about Peyton Shields, without Peyton ever even knowing he existed!
She couldn’t possibly have known that he’d snagged her address and pager number. Those details were part of the vast store of information in his dog-eared daily journal that included virtually every number that had event the remotest connection to the daily life of Peyton Shields. Home phone number, cellular number, pager number, street number, driver’s license number, social security number, bank account number, locker number at the hospital lounge, number of steps from her front door to the subway station, number of times she used the restroom on an average twelve-hour shift, number of bites it took her to consume half of a turkey sandwich on a twelve-minute lunch break. Twelve, if it was on her regular whole wheat bread with just lettuce, no tomato and a small swipe of mayo. Sixteen, if on a kaiser roll. He even knew her bra and panty size.
That is the definition of creepy! Its difficult to believe such people even exist, but even fiction is after all on some reality.
So who hired the mime?
Then Peyton’s ex-lover is killed, and no one knows who killed him. In a grilling trial in which the jury and both Peyton’s and Kevin’s lawyers are out for the publicity the case can give them, the couple are forced to admit truths to themselves and to each other they otherwise would have glossed over. Details of drunken sex emerge, and the dirty laundry of their personal lives is washed on primetime television, where everyone has an opinion about what might have happened, and none of them match the couple’s version.
So when Peyton’s mother starts removing her daughter’s married pictures from the living room shelves, it’s the last straw.
Does Peyton’s and Kevin’s marriage stand the test? Who was the person that killed Peyton’s ex? How did Peyton’s stalker accumulate his info?
There’s everything it takes to test a relationship to its very foundations, everything it takes to keep loving and keep trusting. Like fighting the attackers surrounding you-back to back. Like the line-‘Either we both go down together, or we both come out of it’.
Peyton is shown to be quite a resolute and sorted woman. She manages to find the strength to console her mother that everything will be alright, at a time her own marriage is falling apart, she has been accused and almost convicted of a murder she didn’t commit, and her career is all but finished. In short, Peyton has nothing going for her. The only thing she can hope for is solidarity from her husband Kevin, which too seems shaky considering the trust issues they have had since the past 2 years. In the process, she does manage to come across as somewhat of a goody-two-shoes.
Another of my contentions was the way the story dragged on for about the first 100 pages, where the stalker has fetaured a lot. Later, when the court cases are filed and the hearings begin, the story gets much more engrossing.
There are also many points in the book where I felt like ‘Why would he/she do/believe/say that ?’. There are several places where I thought ‘Why don’t they just talk it out instead of assuming and jumping to conclusions?’. But I guess I didn’t mind those parts so much in my eagerness to know what happens next.
As with other thrillers, the reader is kept more in the loop than the main characters all along. However here the reader guesses the plot quite easily. The twists in the plot are what give the book its ‘I can’t wait to read what’s gonna happen next’ quality. I can’t judge this book very fairly on this front though, since this is just the second book I’ve read in this genre, the first having been Gone Girl, which of course was a stellar plot and execution altogether.
There is some lawyery jargon, which made me think the author was an ex-lawyer, which turned out to be correct after all. But it isn’t so much that a layman wouldn’t understand without some help from the dictionary, so that’s passable for me.
The writing style is typical for thrillers- alternating chapters picking up different threads, which all come together in the end.
About the Author:
A lawyer turned writer(mostly legal thrillers), read everything on James Grippando straight from him, here.
What’s good :-
- The message behind the book- which I won’t reveal, since it might give away the plot.
- The exciting court case phase, where the story gets very interesting.
What could have been :-
- The characters seem to not make sense at places.
- Better paced, the book seems sluggish during the start.
- More unexpected stuff happening. As a reader, the only thing that kept me going was – will they make it? Or won’t they?
- Character building of Peyton- she’s made out to be a goody-two-shoes, like she can’t do anything wrong ever.
I’ll add one more field here:
What’s creepy :-
Or rather who’s creepy.
Definitely, 100% hands down, THE STALKER. And there’s another creepy person too, who emerges much later in the book so I won’t reveal that.
Other Stuff :
The Title:- Lying With Strangers – There could be many reasons for this name of the book, one of the most prominent ones will be the name of the first novel written by Kevin, Lying With Strangers. The ‘Lying’ could refer to sleeping, or more literally to the lies circulating between the people.
Best Line :-
I’d love to believe you. I want to believe you. But who would go to all that trouble?
Genre :- Psychological Thriller
Final Thoughts :- A good fiction read to get a break from other heavy reading, and a quick one at that, since thrillers don’t last long anyway.
Up Next :- ‘Mrs. Funnybones’ by Twinkle Khanna.