Social Media Icons

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

REVIEW plus Q&A: The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward @blackstoneaudio #CJSReads

The Liar's Girl
by Catherine Ryan Howard


Big thank you to Blackstone Publishing for these copies in return for our honest reviews.

After reading Distress Signals last year (see review HERE), I was ECSTATIC to get a copy of Howard's new release, The Liar's Girl.  You guys, it's SO GOOD!  See what we thought below along with a Q&A with the author!

Publisher:  Blackstone Publishing
Published:  February 27, 2018
356 Pages
Genres:  Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Goodreads Synopsis:

Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin's elite St. John's College-and Ireland's most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city's Central Psychiatric Hospital.

Freshman Alison Smith moved to the Big Smoke to enrol in St. John's and soon fell hard for Will Hurley. Her world bloomed ... and then imploded when Liz, her best friend, became the latest victim of the Canal Killer-and the Canal Killer turned out to be the boy who'd been sleeping in her bed. Alison fled to the Netherlands and, in ten years, has never once looked back.

When a young woman's body is found in the Grand Canal, Garda detectives visit Will to see if he can assist them in solving what looks like a copycat killing. Instead, Will tells them he has something new to confess-but there's only one person he's prepared to confess it to. The last thing Alison wants is to be pulled back into the past she's worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, she returns to the city she hasn't set foot in for more than a decade to face the man who murdered the woman she was supposed to become.

Only to discover that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of all ... 

My Review:

There's just something about Howard's writing style that I just really LOVE.  Neither of her books are those throat punch, make you gasp and go OH MY F*$(*%#$) GOD, WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!  And I know we ALL love those, but hear me out because I do too, but The Liar's Girl is GOOD. 

I started this Sunday night and did NOT want to put it down.  I was hooked in just 20 pages and the only reason I put it down was because I knew I had an early and long day at work on Monday.  I snuck reads in all day Monday just to finish this and finish it, I did!

This book is extremely easy to fly through.  It doesn't throw twists at you left and right but rather engages you in Alison's life.  A decade after her boyfriend is convicted of being a serial killer, he reaches out to her to help prove his innocence. But he CONFESSED... he can't possibly innocent... can he?? In her return to Dublin, she realizes she just needs to know.  Whether he is or not, she finally needs some solid answers since there seems to be doubt in his conviction now.  Howard takes us back a decade ago and then to the present.  Mainly this is done via Alison's POV... mainly 😉.

If I was going to be picky, then I would say that the very ending may not have been entirely necessary.  I liked exactly how it was up to this point... however, it didn't take anything away from my love of the story either. 

Quite frankly, this was exactly the type of read I needed right now.  I feel like I've been struggling through the last few books I've read so it was nice to be able to fly and get truly invested in one again and for that, I give my full five stars.

Thriller lovers who are into characterizations without the big twists (but with the ahhhh, so THAT'S what happened) will truly enjoy this book.  Win, win with both of Howard's books for me to date. I absolutely look forward to more from her.


Jessica's Review:

Last year the #CJSReads trio read DISTRESS SIGNALS by Howard and we all loved it. So when we saw she had another thriller coming out we knew we needed to grab it :) With really popular books it's hard for follow ups to measure up, but THE LIAR'S GIRL did not disappoint! If you liked DISTRESS SIGNALS then you need to pick this one up. 

Will Hurley is charming, handsome, and has a place in the elite St. John's College in Dublin. Sounds perfect, right? Well, he's also Ireland's most prolific serial killer known as the Canal Killer. He was sentenced to life in the Central Psychiatric Hospital at the age of nineteen. As a freshman at St. John's College, Alison Smith quickly fell in love with Will Hurley, until the night her best friend became the newest Canal Killer victim. After learning that the man she loved was the killer, she fled Ireland. 

A decade later, a body is found in the Grand Canal and it becomes apparent that this is a copycat killer. Will is willing to help the police but he said he has one last confession and he will only give it to Alison. She is forced to come back to the past she desperately tried to hide from and she must now face the man that murdered her friend and changed her life forever. 

I love Howard's writing style. She makes it effortless for you to fly through the first half of the book without realizing it. If it weren't for the two feet of snow we got, I would have definitely finished this in one sitting. She has great characterization, a slow build mystery that isn't too slow, and then the perfect amount of suspense to keep you tense as you flip through the pages. This is one of those thrillers that doesn't have a huge and shocking twist, but it ties everything together nicely for you so that it all makes sense. 

I can't wait to see what Catherine Ryan Howard has in store for us next!

I give this 5/5 stars!

Sam's Review:

I was so excited for The Liar’s Girl, the sophomore novel by Catherine Ryan Howard, especially after reading (and LOVING) Distress Signals last year.   I lent this novel out to several people and had everyone in my life jumping on to the Catherine Ryan Howard train.  I was expecting on the edge of my seat action, tension and red herrings aplenty.   Glad to say that The Liar’s Girl did not disappoint!! 

We meet Allison, a college student who has met the man of her dreams, Will, and they fall madly in love.  Seems like they will live happily ever after until a murder unfolds, her boyfriend is implicated and she realizes she is dating a serial killer.  Ten years later, after struggling to rebuild her life, her past comes rushing back into her life as the police ask for her help in a string of new murders that appear like Will’s. 

Like Distress Signals, I loved how Howard rolled out the plot in The Liar’s Girl.  It all flowed seamlessly and, by the end of the first chapter, I was completely hooked.  It sort of read to me like the Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine.  Not too many twists or turns but just a strong, steady, creepy plot.   I loved it. 

Now, the ending, I have a bone to pick with.  I won’t say anything other than that since I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it just didn’t feel like it “fit” with the tone of the story. 

Overall, another awesome novel by Howard and I’ll be waiting anxiously for her third book.  Is there any way you could write a little faster??!!

4/5 stars. 

Meet Catherine Ryan Howard! 
The woman behind Distress Signals and The Liar's Girl!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?

Oh, that’s easy: Netflix. And on a particularly bad day, basically anything that isn’t writing. I am a master procrastinator.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I suppose it’s a bit strange that I don’t necessarily write every day, or even most days.  I’m a binger. I mightn’t write for weeks but then I’ll chain myself to my desk and write for five days straight, until my hands are like claws and I’ve turned feral.

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Thus far I have pretty much avoided writing about marriage, and I don’t write about children at all. I’m in my mid-thirties, am not married and don’t plan on ever having kids, and I very rarely see myself in the (crime) books I read. I don’t necessarily think that’s a big problem, but as I think ‘write the book you want to read but can’t find on the shelf’ is great advice, I’m happy to take it.

How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?

Just one unpublished – a novel I describe as The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers – and countless half-finished ones. For years, all I wanted was to write a novel but I just couldn’t finish one.

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I try not to read them. Reviews are primarily for readers, not for writers. I only ever respond in the sense that if someone posts a link to a review online and tags me in it, I thank them because I want them to know that I’m grateful that they took the time to read my book. I’d never respond to the review directly – no good can come of it! Not reading them at all really helps in dealing with the bad, because you don’t know they are any bad ones. Denial is underrated.

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

For my entire adolescence I was obsessed with the idea of being a biosafety level 4 virologist specializing in the Ebola virus and working at the United State Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, so maybe that. I have my doubts though – I think that was an even more improbable dream than being a writer!

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

We say the phrase ‘life’s too short’ all the time but it literally is. I don’t believe you should put off anything you really want to do, or not use your good stuff, or not at least try to make your biggest dreams come true. I have almost no regrets and that’s because I don’t ever wait to do things, or stay doing things I don’t want to for very long. The clock is always ticking and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The more you’re aware of it, the more you’re pushed to do the things you really want to do and not waste time.

What literary character is most like you?

I am obsessed with the lives of writers in 1920s Paris and am a bit of a daydreamer, so probably Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. I’d like to think I have better hair though. 

If you could cast the characters of any of your books for a movie, who would play your characters?

When I was writing Distress Signals, I used to picture Aaron Eckhart for Peter and Jamie Dornan for Adam. (A terribly arduous task, as you can imagine.) Distress Signals has been optioned for TV, so hopefully someone will have to cast that one day. A girl can dream. The only person in The Liar’s Girl I have a real-world equivalent for is Detective Malone. When I started writing him I had just watched Richard Rankin in a mini-series called Thirteen, so if I was tasked with casting that book, I’d cast him in that role. He’d have to do an Irish accent though, but he’s Scottish so that shouldn’t be too hard! 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was 11 when I first read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, and for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, the beginning part talks about the science of cloning and DNA, and reads like non-fiction. I didn’t know it wasn’t that. I fully believed every word. I think that’s the first time I really thought about the power of being able to build entire worlds out of words – and wholly believable ones, too. That’s when I started wanting to build my own.

What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?

For pure cost-per- use, it has to be my iMac. I bought it in 2012 and it still works like it did the day I took it out of the box. It’s a workhorse. I’ve written both my thrillers on it and am using it to start on a third. I love the big screen on it because I can write a new draft with the old one up there too.

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it?

I get it all the time! I find it very hard to read fiction especially when I’m trying to complete a work of it myself. I find the best way to get out of it is to find a couple of books, usually proof copies in my case, that (a) I really, really want to read and have ideally been looking forward to for ages and (b) are quick reads, as in short chapters, frictionless prose and real page-turners. The kind of book you might save in anticipation of a really long flight. Recently I broke a particularly long streak of reader’s block with a couple of books like that, and then I was off to the races and back on my reading track!

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.

@cathryanhoward on Twitter and Instagram

No comments

Leave a Comment