Title: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Page Count/Review Word Count: 362
There’s a good chance that this book would have picked up my default rating of a 3.5/5 if it wasn’t for one simple reason. It’s written in the present tense, and I’ve never been a fan of that. It’s difficult to get it right and even when people manage it, I still can’t help feeling as though I’m enjoying it less as a result.
I also note from the author bio that this is McManus’ first novel, which makes sense. Writing in present tense is one of those things that rookies do a lot before it gets hammered out of them, but I also noticed that McManus also wrote in present tense for her short story in Marple, where contemporary authors were tasked with writing new Miss Marple stories.
One of Us is Lying is basically a cross between Miss Marple and The Breakfast Club, and it follows the story of what happens after someone dies in suspicious circumstances during a detention. The concept is excellent and so I’ve been thinking about reading this for a while, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.
For example, even though McManus went out of her way to have her core group of characters fit into some of the main high school stereotypes that we see in fiction, they didn’t feel believable. They didn’t even feel consistent.
That also became a problem when we were switching from one point of view to another, because they didn’t actually feel any different. True, I’m not a fan of point of view changes, but there are times when they can be done well. Here, though, you can’t tell which character’s head you’re in without the little headings at the start of each section that spell it out for you.
So it’s okay for a first novel but nowhere near as groundbreaking or mindblowing as people make it out to be. And if you read a lot of crime and horror then you’ll probably be disappointed by how tame it is.