Not Bad, But Not Good
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage Ceylon Today Features
I love my mysteries and thrillers, ever since my younger day. The clever writing, the twists, the excitement of trying to put the clues together yourself is an enjoyable experience that is unparalleled. When I heard of a young Sri Lankan author having written a mystery novel of her own, I couldn’t help being interested. Would it hold up in comparison to other mystery novels from western authors? Or would it fail, leaving only disappointment as a result? Here are some of my thoughts after reading Amanda Wick’s The Truth in Their Lies published by The Jam Fruit Tree Publications.
“I already told you everything! I can’t tell you what I don’t know!” After an intriguing prologue, the first chapter opens with a police interrogation, the one put under scrutiny is our protagonist, Amber Eve Chapman. The reason as to why she’s called to such a location? The murder of a reputed lawyer in town, with her name written in blood on the walls at the scene of the crime. Unfortunately for the investigative team, Amber truly knows nothing, more than she should in fact. That’s because Amber suffers from amnesia after being scarred by a horrifying fire, leaving her with total amnesia. As the investigation continues, both the suave Detective Raymond Kenneth Andrews and Amber fall down a rabbit hole that reveals a dark secret, hidden behind Amber’s amnesia.
The amnesiac protagonist scenario is quite common because of how easy it is to create a suspenseful plot, with intriguing twists and turns at each reveal throughout the narrative. No matter how often it is rinsed and repeated, authors continue to create interesting narratives with clever narrative devices and writing. The Truth in Their Lies shares some of that DNA, with an intriguing ‘what happened?’ question pushing the reader forward, turning each page to find out more. The language was direct and clear, as was the flow of the overall story, albeit a healthy dose of melodrama and some awkward dialogue.
There were flaws
As interesting as the scenario was, the many flaws that were noticeable as I read Amanda Wick’s novel took away from the overall reading experience. Not to mention the poor character writing. As intriguing as the premise was, each of the characters failed to register any depth as I read through each page. Then there was the various inconsistencies and plot holes that were noticeable. When a commonly scenario is being implemented, it’s important to have tight writing and narrative consistency. If not, the suspension of disbelief can easily be broken, taking away the suspense and thrill of the mystery. Unfortunately for Amanda’s work, this is the case, with the latter portion of the novel suffering the most from this inconsistency.
But is it a bad read?
Well, that mainly depends on what kind of a reader you are. If you are a serious mystery thriller buff, this might not be the best read for you. However, that doesn’t mean that The Truth in Their Lies is a bad read at all. In the perspective of a teenage reader who wanted to check out the local English-writing talent, Amanda’s novel may not be the best option, but it certainly isn’t the worst. If you ever come across it in a library, don’t be afraid to pick it up and give it a try.