REVIEW: Liar’s Candle by August Thomas

In brief: Penny manages to escape from a deadly bombing in Turkey. But it’s only the first of many, as parts of the US government think this intern knows too much…

The good: Exciting! Never a dull moment.

The not-so-good: 2019 is a long way away for the next book…

Why I chose it: Sounded interesting – haven’t read a good political thriller for ages. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the copy.

Year: 2018

Pages: 310

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Setting: Mainly America

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I haven’t read a good thriller (or in fact, any thriller) for ages. Liar’s Candle appealed to me because it’s written by a woman and it seemed a bit different than the rest of the pack. After reading it, I can confirm that this is a great thriller that doesn’t fit the standard mould and showcases a great new voice in the genre.

So why is Liar’s Candle different? The main character is a young woman, Penny Kessler. Penny is in Ankara, Turkey as part of a summer intern programme for college at the American Embassy. She’s worked her butt off to make it there and speaks fluent Turkish. She hasn’t really been doing anything too exciting but is mesmerised by one of her colleagues Zach. After a 4th July party at the embassy that ends with an explosion that kills many, Penny becomes the darling of social media when a picture of her escaping with an American flag goes viral. For Penny, that’s when the trouble starts. There are parts of the US government that believe she knows more about the bombing that she’s letting on. The Turkish government think she could be useful to them. But Penny doesn’t remember a thing – she just wants to help find Zach. As she manoeuvers through near misses and escapes, she realises that there are more secrets than anyone else knows. She has the power to extract them all…

This story never stopped. There was always action with a number of very close calls. Yes, of course you will need to suspend your disbelief at times but Liar’s Candle is such a fun ride that you will be happy to do so. I found all the double crossings and good guy/bad guy changes easy to follow, and there were a couple of surprises with who had what intent. The setting of Turkey also made for a refreshing change as it’s not a country I know a great deal about and I couldn’t pick out more than two words in Turkish before I started. August Thomas has captured the environment (heat and all) beautifully, showing the everyday life in addition to the madcap pace Penny is running at. Thomas also excels at the dialogue. Her characters speak naturally and with a healthy dose of sarcastic humour, which made me giggle in several places. It’s a refreshing twist in a genre that can be a little too serious.

I was pleased to see that a second book featuring heroine Penny will be released in 2019. It will be interesting to see how her now-ruined innocence fares after the events of Liar’s Candle – will she join the CIA or will she look for a quieter diplomatic life?

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Liar’s Candle by August Thomas

Add yours

  1. I have just started reading this book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. At the moment I feel quite sorry for Penny.

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