Add The Good Lie to Bailey's series of Disturbing, Psychological Thrillers and Suspense Novels
"Bailey's masterstroke is in creating a situation for his protagonist that is so believable the reader cannot help but feel complicit in the guilt and anguish of it all. With compelling, measured prose, he stakes out precious territory in a genre -- located somewhere between thriller and psychodrama -- that he makes completely his own."
"A great move on Bailey's part to have such consequence arise from something so believable. Bailey has crafted a tale that not only looks at a universal theme but places it in a very West Coast context, making this one story that local readers are going to love."
"Bailey knows how to employ atmosphere, characters and mood to steadily build a story. And the story he so carefully constructs is a good one."
"Bailey had both characters and readers twisting on the spit of morality: What is good? What is bad? Bailey's vision is absolutely compelling."
"Better than most, Bailey understands human nature. The characters leap to life."
The Good Lie "raises serious questions, a story which unfolds darkly under the peaceful surface of the Oak Bay we thought we knew."
From the Author
Fallow Period Ends with a Literary Rush
D.F. Bailey stands atop Anderson Hill Park and breathes in the coolish winter air. As many times as he has been up here, the Victoria-based writer is still awe-struck by the panoramic view of the harbour from these rocks overlooking Oak Bay.
Bailey once lived in this neighbourhood and came here for walks to clear his head. So too does the main character in his new novel, The Good Lie (Turnstone Press, 2007, $19.95), his third. There are other similarities between the writer and Paul Wakefield, Bailey's conflicted protagonist. Both drive a Volvo, knew and admired the late artist Jack Wise, have a love of jazz -- particularly Miles Davis -- and are prone to philosophical utterances that would seem trite if they weren't so sincere.
Bailey uses his own experiences as the skeleton of the novel, too. As an eight-year-old growing up in Montreal, he nearly drowned on summer vacation and can still recall the experience vividly. Decades later, he watched in horror as his own son nearly perished in the icy waters of Oak Bay during a sailing lesson. And, like his character, Bailey once took paddling lessons and kayaked out to Discovery Island, which the writer points out with a sweep of an arm.
These experiences hovered in the back of Bailey's consciousness for years, emerging only after he junked what was to be his third novel, what he had hoped would be his breakthrough hit.
This was the late 1990s. His first two books, Fire Eyes (1987) and Healing the Dead (1992) had received some critical praise, the former shortlisted for a literary prize, the latter translated into German.
"I thought, I have two novels out, one went into translation and I wanted to make a bestseller. I had a manuscript and it wasn't going anywhere and I thought, 'What the hell am I doing?'" Bailey gave up writing for an entire year. He hardly looked at his computer, didn't read a book. Around 2000, he got his mojo back and started sketching out a scene for a new work, to see what would happen.
An amiable chap with a full head of iron-grey hair and wire-rimmed glasses, Bailey talks now of how his new novel practically fell from his finger-tips. But he acknowledges there were days when he had to give a mighty tug to get the words out.
"It was hard, I was out of the groove, out of writing. I had got out of the discipline.... [But] that's one of the beauties of this novel is that I had no plan. "It was a gift. I delivered it." While finishing a kayaking course for novices, The Good Lie's central character and a 13-year-old girl get separated from their paddling party in the fog. A passing yacht swamps them and the girl panics, nearly drowning Wakefield as he tries to scramble back into his craft. To save himself, he hits her with his paddle, rendering her comatose.
With no witnesses, Wakefield concocts "the good lie" of the book's title in order to save his family, his career and, he tells himself, so the girl's family can maximize the insurance payout that it will surely collect. But he has to live with the lie, good as it is, and the guilt.
Bailey, unlike Wakefield, has never hammered anyone into a coma, nor has he faced the kind of moral or legal dilemma in which his character gets entangled.
And better than most, Bailey understands human nature. He's a former school teacher and clinical psychologist who runs the professional writing co-op program at the University of Victoria.
Of his time as a psychologist/ teacher at the Eric Martin institute in the late 1970s, he says, "I learned more about the human condition in those three years than at any time in my life."
With his new novel, Bailey feels as if he has had a re-birth of sorts. And with the story set in Victoria in such familiar surroundings, the characters leap to life, even for their creator.
"I feel strange talking about these characters as if they're real. But after spending so much time with them, they become your friends," Bailey says as we walk down Anderson Hill's rocks toward his car.
Published with permission from Grant Kerr, originally published by the Victoria Times-Colonist. Grant Kerr is a journalist and writer who recently moved to Victoria from the Atlantic Coast.