THE LIE by Petra Hammesfahr

Book Quote:

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Book Review:

Review by Guy Savage (JUN 11, 2010)

Imagine for a moment that you have no money, no job and no prospects when you meet someone who could be your double. This twin version has everything you don’t: a huge bank account, a luxury villa, a flashy sports car, and a loving, attractive husband. What would you do if your double offered to pay you to trade lives for a few days?….

This is exactly the scenario in German author Petra Hammesfahr’s thriller The Lie. Down-on-her-luck, Susanne Lasko is applying for yet another job when she finds herself face to face with a woman who could be her twin:

“In her external appearance the young woman who suddenly appeared before her was not identical with her. She was her height and had her figure, her eyes, her mouth. And it was her face—but with perfect makeup and framed by fashionably styled hair. The woman’s hair was a rich brown and considerably shorter than the sun-bleached mop coming down to her shoulders. Her double was wearing a light-grey, pinstripe suit with a white blouse.”

The similarities between the two women serve to highlight Susanne’s shabbiness; her old clothes have seen better days, and she’s badly in need of a haircut. On top of that, the other woman, Nadia Trenkler, is expensively dressed complete with designer accessories. Nadia seems to want to make Susanne’s acquaintance. Is she motivated by charity, friendship or something more sinister?

Peculiar things begin to happen in Susanne’s life. Someone appears to be following her, and then she discovers her apartment is bugged. In the meantime, an uneasy relationship is forged between the two women, Nadia and Susanne, and while they look alike, their characters are complete opposites. In a short time, Nadia suggests that Susanne can make some easy money by changing places with her one weekend. Nadia uses the excuse of needing time with a lover, and Susanne, who’s been slowly siphoning money from her mother’s bank account, and who has no other options for making money, agrees.

Of course, if you take one poor woman and place her in the affluent, comfortable life of a much wealthier woman, who’s to say that the poor woman will want to return to her old life. What if she likes the new wealthy life she’s managed to taste for just a few days?

The Lie is really quite intriguing. The novel strained credulity at times as Susanne is remade in Nadia in order to buy Nadia the freedom to enjoy her dirty weekend. After all, it takes more than a hair cut, a sun tan and some fancy new clothes to be able to successfully impersonate someone else, and I was not entirely convinced that Susanne could acceptably impersonate Nadia when the chips were down. Nadia is, after all, a primo bitch–self-confident, self-assured and used to getting her own way. Susanne, in contrast, is a bit of a disaster waiting to happen–as evidenced by her history of employment, frequent headaches, and lack of confidence.

That complaint aside, if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and buy the swap between Nadia and Susanne, then it’s incredibly easy to be swept up by the story. It’s perfectly clear to the reader that Nadia is up to something more than an illicit weekend, but Susanne who has no other options for making money, buys the story. And while Nadia is supposedly off sporting with her lover, this leaves Susanne alone with Nadia’s rather neglected husband. And of course, the expected happens…

The Lie can be classified as a psychological thriller, and apart from the mystery afoot, the novel includes some observations about the behaviour of the wealthy when contrasted to the behaviour of those used to the hard knocks of life. Nadia fully expects to buy Susanne, and Susanne finds herself wondering what life would have been like for her if she’d been cocooned and propelled by money and influence. While Nadia has a great deal of confidence that her schemes will work, Susanne is interested in protecting herself if something goes wrong.

It’s exciting to see several small independent publishers marketing books in translation. German author Petra Hammesfahr’s novel The Lie, translated by Mike Mitchell, is from Bitter Lemon Press.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 4 readers
PUBLISHER: Bitter Lemon Press (April 1, 2010)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia on Petra Hammesfahr
EXTRAS: Publisher Page on The Lie
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

The Sinner


June 11, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Germany, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Translated, y Award Winning Author

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