Ruth Ware | The Lying Game

The Book: 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Published: June 2017 by Scout Press

Torrie’s Rating:


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The Plot (Goodreads):

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Click here for book spoilers for The Lying Game
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Lying Game, I suggest you turn back now.

We’re led to believe that Ambrose committed suicide by overdosing on heroin (he was a recovered addict) and Kate found him. Kate texted her three friends for help, and since she was under 16, she didn’t want to go to the police because she would be put into foster care. She convinced her friends to help her bury his body and that she would wait a few weeks to notify the police at which point she’ll be 16 and allowed to stay in her home alone. Isa, Fatima, and Thea are all led to believe that Ambrose committed suicide because the school had found out about his drawings of them – some of which were of the girls naked.

As the novel progresses, the truth is revealed. Kate and her step-brother Luc were in love, and when Ambrose found out, he decided they needed to be separated, and decided to send Luc away. Luc had a challenging childhood and experienced a lot of abuse, so he panicked and was terrified of being sent away from the only safe place he ever knew. He acted out and killed Ambrose by putting a lethal dose of heroin in a wine bottle for Ambrose to consume. An oral overdose isn’t quick, so Ambrose eventually realized he had been poisoned. During that time, he wrote a goodbye note to Kate (that was disguised as a suicide note), designed to save her and Luc from any police inquiry and to guide her to protect Luc. Kate sent her father’s drawings to the school to provide an alibi.

Kate hated Luc for killing her father who she loved dearly, but she followed her father’s request from the letter to protect him and not let his death be in vain. In the end, Luc shows up at The Mill (his childhood home and Kate’s home in the present) and tries to talk to Kate. They argue and a candle catches the house on fire. Luc goes back into the burning house to save Freya (Isa’s 6-month-old daughter), but is unable to get out himself. Kate goes back in to be with Luc, and both die in the fire.

Torrie’s Review:

I’ve 3 or 4 books by Ruth Ware, and this is by far my favorite. It kept me guessing throughout, and while some red herrings were clear, I was never committed to a particular answer until all was revealed by the author. I found Isa to be an annoying narrator, and I hated some of her adult decisions, but I did enjoy reading the book and found that the writing was of great quality. There definitely was some unnecessary description and filler here and there, but the action and plot stayed center focus. This book makes me want to read more of Ruth Ware’s novels!

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