J.P. Pomare’s “Tell Me Lies” is a spellbinding psychological thriller that was originally penned as an Audible Original. I can’t tell you whether its prose form has been edited or expanded upon in any way. What I can tell you is that it’s slick and twisty, constructed like a Michael Robotham novel on speed, but forsaking none of the psychological acuity.
I won’t go into plot details. The less you know, the more you’ll enjoy the ride: Pomare’s plot twists explode like percussion grenades. But its opening hook is genius. Psychologist Margot Scott — who lives a tranquil life with her husband and two kids, essentially the epitomised lifestyle of the Australian dream — approaches one of her clients on a busy Melbourne train platform. As the train approaches, she makes a fatal decision. She shoves her client onto the tracks. We then smash-cut to a month earlier, and learn what has led to that moment: the (almost) complete destruction of Margot’s personal and professional life.
“Tell Me Lies” uses the tricks of the thriller trade well, but why it really works is that it withholds essential information from the reader until Pomare is ready. What I admired most about the novel is how tightly constructed it is. It’s conventional in the sense that Pomare is not reinventing anything; but he’s polishing its requisite elements to a perfect sheen.