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Monday 28 September 2015

‘The Truth and Other Lies’ by Sascha Arango

Published by Simon and Schuster,
4 June 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-4711-3970-3 (HB).

Henry Hayden’s mistress has just announced that she’s pregnant, and he’s agreed to leave his wife... except that his wife is actually the writer of the novels that have made him world famous.

This absorbing tale is told mostly through Henry’s eyes, so we accept his character and dilemma before the author gives us the shock of seeing him as others see him: the policeman, Jenssen, who believes he’s a murderer, and Gisbert Fasch, the man he bullied as a child, who’s compiled a dossier of Henry’s past. Henry is charming, plausible and amoral, capable of ruthless evil and great generosity, and driven by his own demons, which manifest in the form of a marten scratching in the roof. His wife, Martha, is also a convincing character, modest and reclusive, with her daily routine of swimming and rest, and her nightly writing, yet able to take the initiative when her world is threatened. The other bit characters, fisherman Obradin and his wife, Helga, dying publisher Moreany and his jealous secretary Honor, and the voluptuous Betty are all intertwined in a complex plot with a satisfying ending. The novel is set in Germany, but place names are rarely mentioned, and the translation is aimed at an American market, so I kept thinking it was set in the States, until a character saying ‘Herr Hayden’ reminded me. The prose is smooth and quick to read, with flashes of vivid description.

A compelling crime novel about a man whose life begins to unravel. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Sascha Arango is one of Germany’s most prominent screenplay writers and a two-time winner of the Grimme Prize, a prestigious award for German television, for his work on the long-running detective series Tatort. His first novel, The Truth and Other Lies, will be published in more than thirteen countries in 2015. He lives in Germany.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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