cover image The Better Liar

The Better Liar

Tanen Jones. Ballantine, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-984-82122-5

Jones debuts with a taut, twisty thriller. For the past two months, Leslie Voigt Flores, an accountant, wife, and mother in Albuquerque, N.Mex., has been desperately trying to track down her little sister, Robin Voigt—the black sheep who left home 10 years earlier at 16—so that Leslie can collect $50,000 from their father’s estate. Under the terms of the will, no funds can be dispersed without both siblings being present, a condition designed to force the two to reconcile. After hitting an apparent dead end in Nevada, Leslie runs into a vivacious young woman with an eerie resemblance to Robin, a server/actor wannabe who introduces herself as Mary. The pair return to New Mexico to play out a two-handed con, with Mary pretending to be Robin. The author sneakily builds suspense via a trio of narrators—Leslie, Mary, and Robin—none of them reliable. Though the novel falters at the finale when its big reveal comes across as less convincing than the characters’ previous lies, readers won’t feel cheated. Jones arrives with an undeniable splash. Agent: Erin Harris, Folio Literary Management. (Jan.)