Books & Literature

Book Review: Black Lies, by Mercedes Mercier

THRILLER: Criminal psychologist Dr Laura Fleming discovers some people will stop at nothing to keep the past hidden.

A gripping thriller with twists galore.

Feature image credit: HarperCollins

Adelaide author Mercedes Mercier burst onto the crime thriller scene last year with her sensational debut novel White Noise.

Protagonist Dr Laura Fleming returns in Mercier’s follow-up, Black Lies.

Laura is a psychologist, working in Westmead Prison in Sydney. Divorced, with a teenaged daughter Riley, she juggles a stressful job with weekend parenting, feeling relatable guilt and frustration about aspects of her life.

In Black Lies, Laura is given a special task. Long-term prisoner Tomas Kovak is dying of cancer. He confessed 15 years previously to killing a young woman in advanced pregnancy. He has never spoken to a psychologist, nor given further details of his crime. He has weeks to live, and Laura’s job is to get him to open up, and tell her where he put the victim’s body. But once Laura starts to talk to Kovak, her instincts tell her that his confession is not adding up.

Mercier knows how to craft a true page-turner. Short, punchy, chapters flip from “now” to the time of the murder, sometimes written in first person by the murderer (Kovak or not?). Along with plenty of twists and action, the reader is kept engaged with Laura’s ongoing not-yet-a-relationship with sexy cop Paul, and her friendship with sassy, rebellious, work colleague Sam.

As someone who works in the criminal justice system, Mercier is uniquely placed to delve into issues such as prisons, victims of crime, criminology, and the underpinnings of male violence against women. She eschews the simplistic solution, avoids cliché, and gives us rounded characters, along with an insight into the prison system. But most importantly Black Lies does what it says on the can: delivers a tight, twisty, thriller, which it is very difficult not to devour in one sitting (so don’t start it at morning tea, is my advice!!).

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: HarperCollins
Released: June 2023
RRP: $15.99

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