Rating: 4.5 Stars
3 Lies is an engrossing thriller that presents a novel twist on the "ticking clock" rescue.
When Beth, the girlfriend of tech millionaire Clint Masters, disappears, he quickly realizes she's been kidnapped, and that her family is doing little to help track her down. Little does he realize she's involved in a chain of several kidnappings intended to aid a sinister goal. Whether or not the kidnappers harm her doesn't matter much, as without dialysis she'll be dead in days anyway. Now Clint must use all his resources and clout to find his girlfriend, all the while avoiding the inexplicable interference of her powerful relatives.
After beginning with the kidnapping of Beth, girlfriend of primary protagonist Clint Masters, 3 Lies expertly weaves between a number of different view points, both antagonist and protagonist. In lesser hands, this technique can result in a muddled narrative where the reader can't connect deeply with the character. In this story, however, the story never becomes confused and none of the view points detract from the novel.
There are no superfluous characters in the book. Even the various antagonists are provided very distinct personalities and motivations. They aren't just flat, evil "villains" to be defeated. Their own internal organizational struggles offer another layer of tension to the story. Each different chapter provides information that helps the reader piece together the big picture of what it occurring while still preserving the background suspense and mystery. Nothing ever seems cheap or forced. Given that the various different plot threads and perspectives start out rather distant, I was impressed by how smoothly the author weaved them all together.
While not all the characters are likable, particularly the antagonists, they are all well-developed and engaging. The primary protagonist, Clint, along with several of the secondary protagonists though also happen to be both likable and engaging but without being flawless. In addition, the author explores some of the kidnapping through the point of view of Beth. This added to both the tension by both making the danger to the victims more obvious and by connecting the reader more directly to the victims.
My only minor quibble with the multiple viewpoints was the inclusion, near the third act, of certain short chapters consisting entirely of unattributed dialog. I didn't mind the lack of attribution, as it was obvious that it was to help enhance mystery, but I felt the content of these chapters may have tipped the hand of the author as to the answers of certain mysteries. That being said, even with those chapters, there are plenty surprises throughout the novel.
This story is not, with the exception of a few scenes, a high-action title. Instead, it relies on the steady threat of violence against innocent people and the unusual inclusion of a chronic medical condition to help push forward tension. In addition, for every questions answered, there is a new uncertainty raised helping to maintain the dramatic tension until all the mysteries are cleared up at the end. The author employs taut pacing throughout the story ensuring that the tension never sags even in chapters focused on character dvelopment sub-plots such as the protagonist having to deal with the desire of his ex-wife to reconcile.
In many thrillers, especially those involving any aspect of technology, authors often give in to their worse expository impulses. Though 3 Lies isn't a true techno-thriller, there are several key aspects that deal with things such as satellite technology and computer programming. The author did a fine job of addressing these issues in an understandable way without coming off didactic or uninteresting. When an author can make something as obscure as code commenting seem interesting, you know they are doing something right.
Any fan of thrillers would be doing themselves a disservice by passing up this book.