Ruth Ware does it again! If you've read In a Dark, Dark Wood and/or The Woman in Cabin 10 and felt pulled in by the masterful skills of the author in constructing a psychological thriller that is tortuous and creepy as all get out, you will undoubtedly find The Lying Game to be of equal or higher chill factor.
The novel starts out with a group of friends receiving a text message in the middle of the night that says, "I need you." Isa receives the message first. Then, Thea and Fatima. They stop everything and immediately head to Salten to help their friend Kate. Seventeen years before, the four girls were students at a second-rate boarding school near the cliffs of the English Channel and possibly involved in covering up a crime. What was the crime? Who knows about the crime? Was it really a crime? Who is guilty of what?
The reader doesn't have the answers to any of those questions. What is learned early on is that a body has washed up near Salten, in a tidal estuary region called the Reach. There'd been a mysterious disappearance of the school's art teacher, who also happens to be Kate's father, seventeen years prior, that resulted in all four girls being asked to leave the school and the townspeople have been gossiping and spreading hurtful lies ever since. When all four show up at the annual reunion dinner, tongues are really wagging.
To complicate matters, the four girls were part of a mean-girls club in school where they played the "Lying Game." There were specific rules, a scoring system and methodology. A lot of other students and townspeople were hurt by this high school game because Isa, Thea, Fatima and Kate were naive and unable to see past their lies to how they might affect people. It was just a game to them until it was not. Now there's a body washed ashore and all fingers are pointing to the girls known for lying.
I did not know where this was headed and there are more than a few chapters where I was mentally screaming at Isa to Turn around, Don't go in there, Walk away and many other commands to protect herself. You'll have to read the book to find out who the real liars are, but it is not what I expected. Sometimes I crave a twisty mystery and this one is flawless.