Title: The Liar's Lullaby
Author: Meg Gardiner
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Release Date: June 24, 2010
If you've been reading my blog for a while you might remember how much I've enjoyed the Jo Beckett series by Meg Gardiner, and how much I was looking forward to the third installment, The Liar's Lullaby. I wasn't blogging regularly yet when I read The Dirty Secret's Club, but I did write a review for The Memory Collector so check it out!
Let me fill you in a little on this series. Jo Beckett conducts psychological autopsies as part of criminal investigations to determine if a person's death was the result of an accident, homicide, or suicide. So we get to learn a lot about a person's past and all the events leading up to their death as well as the state of the person's mental health, etc. The main detective she works with is Lieutenant Amy Tang who is a petite woman with an attitude (but is actually very tenderhearted). The Liar's Lullaby starts out when Jo and her sister, Tina, attend a concert by famous country singer (and ex-wife to the president), Tasia McFarland. During a stunt Tasia is killed by a gunshot, but due to the smoky (and other crazy) special effects, it's unclear if she shot herself, was shot by someone else, or if the gun she was holding accidentally went off. Shortly after agreeing to take on the case, Jo learns that Tasia left some messages in the form of some songs she wrote, and it appears that there is a lot more going on than just an accident during a stunt. Is there a conspiracy involving the president of the United States? Or does her death have anything to do with him at all? Was it a suicide as a result of her history of mental health issues?
I found myself, as I did with the last in this series, slightly confused in the beginning. Gardiner introduces all the different players in the beginning, but their involvement in the plot is unknown which led to that initial confusion. We know Tasia was once married to the current U.S. president; but then we see three people who appear to be sort of a radical anti-government group who religiously follow their online counterpart, Paine, who idolizes the thoughts of the original Thomas Paine. We meet someone named Noel Michael Petty (referred to as NMP) who appears to have an obsession for Tasia. These are just some characters among many others who may or may not be involved...
But as confused as I may have initially felt, no worries... it all came together; it reminded me of the first two in this series. It's as though the author gave us all the puzzle pieces and then adeptly pieced them together while we watched. As each piece fell into place, the puzzle started form a more clear picture; I realized exactly what role each of the many characters had in the whole picture as well. The entire mystery was intricate and so extremely smart. I did question how realistic it was that Jo figured out some of the answers she did, specifically as they related to the music -- they made complete sense once they were explained, but to be able to recognize some of the things she did reflected her high level of intelligence. I say intelligence because there these specific aspects I refer to had to do with basic music theory, though it was sort of intense, and for a layperson (as it pertains to music) to have the knowledge she did impressed me... definitely read this if that interests you.
A couple other things I thoroughly enjoyed were the characters and the setting. I've mentioned it before, but I truly love the characters in this series. If nothing else, I love returning to visit Jo Beckett and Amy Tang and continue to look forward to reading more about them! This series also takes place in San Fransisco, but this was the first time I really felt like a large part of the action took place on the streets of San Fransisco that I picture in my head (surely from what I've seen on tv... Full House intros anyone?? LOL) But back to this book, the setting was very fun for me too!
I do definitely recommend this series for those who enjoy this genre. The plot is thorough and smart, the writing is great, and I adore the characters. Can't wait for the next one!
Check out this article where the author, Meg Gardiner, discusses how she came up with the ideas that she used in this book.