Book Review: Liar Liar by Mel Sherratt
I read Hush Hush, the first in this series, late in 2018 and wasn’t that impressed. I thought it was waffly and I didn’t quite ‘get’ the main character, Grace Allendale. Still, when the opportunity to read Liar Liar came up, I thought I’d give the author another go, to see if they’d learned anything while writing the series, and I was very pleasantly surprised. You don’t have to have read any other books in the series to jump in and enjoy this one, and it’s a very solidly written police procedural focusing on the gritty realities of life in a low-income block of flats in a British Midlands city.
Grace is still a little bit of an enigma, but she’s settled into Stoke now, finding her place in community policing rather than on the Major Crimes squad. When she’s the officer on the spot when a young boy takes a serious fall in suspicious circumstances, though, it falls to Grace to investigate the residents of a block of low-income housing flats. When all the residents, including the boy’s parents, insist they saw nothing and no nothing, Grace doesn’t give into frustration. She digs in deep, pulling on one loose thread after another, until the whole story slowly begins to unravel to reveal the truth.
The story is told in dual timelines, one following Ruby, the mother of the little boy whose fall triggers the events of this story, several years ago as Ruby, then a schoolgirl of sixteen, falls for an older boy and ‘gets in with a bad crowd’. Ruby’s descent is as inevitable as it is painful to read and may be triggering for some readers, as she ends up on the run with her young child, forever looking over her shoulder in case the violence in her past catches up with her.
What this book does best is bring into sharp focus just how easy it is to get sucked in to a life on the edge. Almost every resident of Harrison House is avoiding the law, either from fear of reprisals from the kingpins running the city’s underworld or knowledge that they’ve already stepped over the line into criminal behaviour. It’s a close look at the gritty realities of life in the lower strata of society, and just how incredibly hard it is to escape, and it’s very well done. This is an excellently well written police procedural which feels just so believable, almost like a documentary rather than fiction. I’m giving it five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.