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The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

The Good Liar

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Lovereading view...

Shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2016.

This witty and twisty tale of an elderly con man intent on a final hurrah when he initially goes on a blind date with a retired, wealthy woman, brings more than smiles to the face. However she is not all she appears to be and as his own past is slowly unveiled in parallel to the con he studiously devotes himself to, increasing layers of lies and domestic intrigue are revealed which often turn the elaborate plot upside down. With echoes of Patricia Highsmith but without the die-hard cynicism, this is an affectionate and deliberately old fashioned psychological thriller with just the right touch of humour and humanity. Engrossing and with a tightly-engineered plot that holds surprises at every corner and what is there to dislike in a thriller where the main character is in his 80s? ~ Maxim Jakubowski

The Lovereading view...

Just fabulous. This is one of those wonderfully rare books that sets you in the middle of a familiar location and then prowls down a previously unexplored and unexpected path. Roy, vain and full to overflowing with self belief, is a liar of the highest order, it is second nature for him to deceive, to swindle and cheat, and Betty is Roy’s next target. Exquisitely pitch perfect, with clear and self assured writing, the story slides backwards in time, releasing information, raising suspicions and spiralling down into darkness. Nicholas Searle doesn't rush this tale, he openly describes Roy’s thoughts and feelings, allowing a connection to this con man, a connection that breeds disquiet and foreboding. As I turned the last page, I paused, and felt within, one of those electrifying moments before applause bursts forth. Deceptively subtle and surprising, yet bold and fearless, I will be shouting about ‘The Good Liar’, from as many rooftops as I can find. ~ Liz Robinson

January 2016 eBook of the Month.

A 'Piece of Passion from the Publisher...

I want to tell you about this fabulously compelling novel Viking is publishing in January. The response within Penguin has been extraordinary so far – with staff in every department raving about it. There have been so many ‘water cooler moments’ with people asking: ‘when did you guess?’ or, ‘I didn’t see that coming at all!’ So, dodging any possible plot spoilers, here’s a little description of the book: The Good Liar is a story of deception, brilliantly imagined – the story of a conman, Roy, about to embark on the final con of his career. His target is Betty, a woman whom he is planning to seduce and then run off with her life savings. Roy is incredibly creepy and Betty is wonderfully admirable, if a little mysterious. The twists and turns of the narrative are endlessly surprising.

I’ve been in publishing for twenty years and I have only very occasionally come across novels as original as this. I have also, only very occasionally witnessed such an amazing in-house response. It would be terrific if you liked the book as much as we all do. I would love to know what you think and please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you’d like to know more about the novel or the author.

Thanks so much for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Mount
Publisher, Viking/Penguin

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Gavin Dimmock - ‘A gripping story about Roy, an old con man, as he swindles little old Betty. This is a great read and I have already recommended it highly to my friends and family.’
  • Susan Pledger - ‘Fantastic Read. Loved it.’
  • Joy Bosworth - ‘It's stilted and slow at first but the denouement is really good.’
  • Robin Little - ‘This is a fascinating tale where we learn about how a man can be shaped by his past. Great, intriguing characters and a believable plot.’
  • Janet Monks - ‘An elderly con man takes on his final conquest, having met Betty online. Wow! Read it!’
  • Sue Broom - ‘What starts out as one story turns into something quite different - a surprise, but a good one. A debut novel from this author and I’ll be on the lookout for his next.’
  • Suzanne Beney - 'A gripping story where I was constantly trying to decipher fact from fiction.'
  • Megan Williams - 'A clever novel that will not fail to surprise and delight the reader in the darkest of ways.'
  • Nicola Cooper - 'My sort of book and would definitely read more from this author.  Highly recommended, couldn’t put it down!'
  • Catherine Hogwood - 'A story of concealing identities and just how far some people will go to look after themselves...A twisted tale that leaves you guessing until the end.'
  • Victoria Emerson - 'The Good Liar is a suspenseful tale about an aged conman named Roy trying to pull off his last swindle.'
  • Stephanie Harding - 'I can honestly say that the last part of the book had me up late, desperate to find out what happened. The ending was, for me, unexpected.'
  • Ian Harvey-Brown - 'Like a well-oiled machine, this book confidently delivers on its promise. The reader is left to ponder the quirks of human nature, the driving forces that compel us to act the way we do.'
  • Ann Quintilla - 'The book is superbly written and the plot so well crafted. It contains many loose threads but they are all neatly tied at the end.'
  • Neil Williams - 'A well told story with an unexpected and well-structured twist.'
  • Fiona Rothery - 'this novel was unfortunately for me easy to put down.'
  • Carina Barnett - 'People with pasts that catch up with them and a cast of characters who will keep you guessing until the end. Clever writing which will slowly draw you in.'


The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

This is a life told back to front. This is a man who has lied all his life. Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con? What has he had to do to survive a life of lies? And who has had to pay the price?


'A menacing terror of a book Stylist I was engrossed by Nicholas Searle's story of Roy, a conman out for one last scam, and Betty, a wealthy widow, and the perfect mark. The plot unfolds to a payoff as inevitable as it is shocking. A superb thriller and a truly compelling read.' Ruth Ware, bestselling author of 'In a Dark, Dark Wood'

'What a clever and menacing novel The Good Liar is. I was gripped and horrified in equal measure and the ending knocked me sideways! I can't wait for everyone to read the book so I can talk about it' Nina Stibbe, bestselling author of 'Love, Nina' and 'Man at the Helm'

'Twists and turns galore!' The Bookseller

'The Good Liar is a taut, compulsive thriller with a dark, intriguing heart. A Mr Ripley for our time' -- Jonathan Freedland

About the Author

Nicholas Searle

Nicholas Searle grew up in Cornwall and studied languages at the universities of Bath and Gottingen. He was a civil servant who spent much of his time working on security matters before deciding to leave in 2011 and begin writing fiction. The Good Liar is his first novel. He lives in Yorkshire.

Author photo © Mark Vessey

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Book Info

Publication date

14th January 2016


Nicholas Searle

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Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


288 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Crime / Mystery
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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