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The Lying Tongue Hardcover – February 20, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (February 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743293975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743293976
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,202,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Andrew Wilson has follwed Beautiful Shadow, his stunning biography about Patricia Highsmith, with his debut novel, The Lying Tongue, a book that follows in Highsmith's own tradition of plot twists and psychological conundrums.

Adam Woods arrives in Venice from England to take a job and work on his novel. The job quickly evaporates, so he finds another, as amanuensis to a reclusive old author, Gordon Crace. Things start out in a straightforward manner. The author is eccentric, to say the least, but after tidying up the place and perusing the fine art collection, Adam settles in. Crace has written one book, refuses to talk about it and tells Adam that he doesn't want his authorial life even mentioned. It is over.

The only thing we know about Adam is that he just graduated from college and his love affair ended badly. We subsequently find out that when his girlfriend broke up with him he raped her to show her how much she really wanted to be with him. Enter Adam, the sinister creep. That is just the beginning of what we find out about him, about Gordon and what they are both capable of in this revelatory tale of two truly despicable people. After finding two interesting--and damning--letters among Gordon's castabout papers, Adam decides to abandon his novel and write Crace's biography.

Wilson keeps us guessing as Adam leaves Gordon for a week, pleading a need to attend his grandmother's funeral. He goes back to England to head off another biographer, to snoop around to see what she has gleaned, and to do a bit of research on his own. Things do not go exactly as planned, but Adam is more than equal to whatever heinous act it takes to advance his own cause. When he returns to Venice and Gordon, the creep factor increases dramatically and ends in a crafty and perfect conclusion, one that the reader is not prepared for... which makes it that much better. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Patricia Highsmith, the subject of British journalist Wilson's acclaimed biography Beautiful Shadow, would be delighted by this standout debut novel, which heralds a major new talent in the psychological thriller genre. After a tutoring job in Venice falls through, aspiring novelist Adam Woods appears to luck into the perfect position there—as personal assistant to the reclusive Gordon Crace, an acclaimed writer whose life is shrouded in mystery and who's published only one novel. Crace, who's locked himself away from the glories of his chosen city, insists Woods abide by a set of strict rules, including not mentioning Crace's literary success. In clearing out the author's mess of a study, Woods finds two letters that hint at a dark secret in Crace's past, and begins to discreetly probe his employer's past, with calamitous results. Wilson brilliantly and subtly introduces doubt in the reader as to Woods's reliability and character before delivering some potent final plot twists. Fans of classic Hitchcock will be richly rewarded. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Rarely have I found a work of fiction as compelling.
I. Sondel
I fear that too much has been given away in blurbs, which I didn't see before reading the movel myself.
K. L. Cotugno
Weak writing, silly plot and ludicrously tidy ending.
Toby J. Galinkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I only read about this novel last Friday. The cover photograph caught my eye. Then I read what the book was about and that the author is the acclaimed biographer of Patricia Highsmith - a favorite. I knew I had to read it. I rushed out and found a copy and devoured it over the weekend.

Recently graduated from University, would be novelist Adam Woods can't believe his good fortune in landing a position as personal assistant to the reclusive writer Gordon Crace. Crace is an enigmatic figure. Forty years ago he published a phenomenally popular novel of murder at a boys school called "The Debating Society" before retreating into seclusion. An intensely private man, Crace wants nothing more than to be left alone with only the skeletons in his closet for company. However, one rarely gets what one wants - or deserves. Sensing an opportunity to exploit Crace and the mystery of his self-imposed isolation, Woods sets out to discover all he can about the man's past. As you can well imagine, what he finds isn't pretty.

Andrew Wilson has done Ms. Highsmith proud. His is truly a novel of suspence, equal parts "The Aspern Papers" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley." I could only put it down reluctantly. Rarely have I found a work of fiction as compelling. His writing is graceful and fluid. There isn't a word or phrase out of place. Each idea, character and situation is presented clearly and succinctly. My only regret is that I read it too fast.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here's a first novel that really jumps out of the pack. Andrew Wilson, author of BEAUTIFUL SHADOW, the acclaimed biography of Patricia Highsmith, has now written a work of fiction that does much more than simply compare favorably to his idol. THE LYING TONGUE is a tale of insidious evil and murder that stands on its own merits. Wilson has a gift for straightforward, matter-of-fact suspense, and this story of an ambitious young writer and the legendary novelist he seeks to exploit builds in quiet intensity to a chilling finale. I don't know what Wilson plans to write next, but I'll definitely be reading it. Bravo!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Wilson's "The Lying Tongue" is narrated by Adam Woods, a young man who leaves London for Venice after completing his art history degree. Adam is at loose ends after breaking up with his girlfriend and his plans for the future are vague. He soon becomes the housekeeper and companion of reclusive and wealthy Gordon Crace, an author who produced one bestselling novel and never wrote another. The elderly and eccentric Crace lives an isolated life in his gloomy and unkempt palazzo. When he moves in with Crace, Adam announces that he wants to write a novel in his spare time. However, Adam is constantly busy tending to his cranky employer's insatiable needs, and life in Venice soon proves to be more lonely and claustrophobic than pleasurable. Crace never leaves his house and he becomes anxious when Adam abandons him to shop or even take a walk.

Wilson's detailed descriptions of the sights and sounds of Venice bring this unique city to life. With Adam, we take water taxis on its canals, eat in its restaurants, and stroll on its busy streets. Through his eyes, we see the paintings, altarpieces, and sculptures that attract connoisseurs of religious art. However, we also learn early on in the narrative, through the author's somewhat heavy-handed use of symbolism and foreshadowing, that amidst all of this beauty there is decadence and decay.

"The Lying Tongue" is a psychological thriller in which vital information is withheld that, when revealed, completely alters our understanding of the characters and events in the story. After Adam learns some sinister secrets about Crace's past, the two men become entangled in a game of cat and mouse that threatens to turn deadly. One of the book's key questions is: To whom do we owe our loyalty?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fred M. Wolfe on April 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading a lot of Venice specific books lately, trying to maintain the joy of a trip there last year. Wilson's dedicatory page intrigued me inthe bookstore," This is not the book I wanted to write. This is not how it was supposed to be at all"

To be honest, if you're expecting Venice to be intimately woven into the fabric of the story, it's not. As Gordon Crace says when explaining why, after living in Venice over thirty years, he's never been outside his front door, , "'s the easiest city in the world to visit without actually going there." Crace spends his days reading accounts of that fair city which are hundreds of years old.

I was bothered by Wilson's phrasology at first.On the second page, this sentence "All around me I heard the constant clapping of pigeons; there was something faintly mocking about their tone," almost caused me to put the book down into the pile of 'not really worth the time to read' pile. In hindsight, the pigeon phrase reveals more about the narrator than I was expecting . Adam Woods, as he is slowly revealed through the pages of the book, is difficult to feel sorry for. Emotionally, he begins to mirror Crace, his subject matter.

The author is skilled at pyschologically manipulating the reader. If you like reading fiction where you can't identify with any of the characters (which is probably good in this instance) or if you're comfortable at experiencing a pyschopath slowly revealing the complexity of their being, you'll enjoy this novel.
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