Author: Paula Stokes
Publication: HarperTeen (March 24, 2015)
Description: A dark and twisted psychological tale that will keep readers guessing, perfect for fans of I Hunt Killers and Gone Girl
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money. So with the help of his friend Preston and his girlfriend, Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something, and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn't think twice about it. But then Preston never comes home. And the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead to Preston's body.
Terrifying clues that point to Max as the killer….
My Thoughts: Now, I haven't read I HUNT KILLERS or GONE GIRL, both of which this book has been compared to, but I do know something about them. So I was expecting twists and potentially unreliable narrators and spent a lot of time analyzing everything that was happening as I read. I came to like the main character and narrator Max Cantrell so much that I really, really hoped that he was telling the story straight.
So, here's the story. Max was adopted by Darla and Ben Cantrell as a nine-year-old after his parents died and he spent some time living alone on the beach. He was almost mute, had PTSD, and didn't know how to love or trust. Nine years of love and support by Ben and Darla have helped but he is still reluctant to trust and to talk about love.
Max has, however, found two good friends. Preston DeWitt is the son of a senator and the high school golden boy with a checkered past. He was expelled from a private school and met Max when he began taking the surfing lessons Max was teaching. They hit it off but don't talk about the past. Parvati Ames was Preston's pal at the private school and was expelled along with him. She wants to work for the CIA when she finishes school. She and Max are dating - secretly - because her soldier father doesn't think Max it right for her.
The three of them come up with a way to liven up their senior year. The start a business called Liars, Inc. which supplies alibis and other services, like forging signatures on permission slips and fake parental calls about absences, So, when Preston needs an alibi to take a quick trip to Las Vegas to meet a girl, Max doesn't think twice about providing one. Then Preston disappears....
Things quickly spiral out of control for Max when he is interviewed by the FBI. Things get even worse when he and Parvati find Preston's phone in the trunk of Max's car and what looks like blood spots. This section of the story was so tense that I had to keep putting the book down for breaks. Things reach the peak of tension when police find Preston's body in a burned building and arrest Max for murder.
But things aren't quite what they seem. I really enjoyed this story. It had a great main character and the tension that was built couldn't have been higher. I liked the resolution and Max's new realizations too. Fans of mysteries will enjoy this one.
"No way. She paid you?" Parvati's eyes widened. "Who knew lying could be so lucrative?"I got this ARC from the author via Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.
"Lawyers," Preston said.
Parvati smirked. Her mom was a defense attorney. "And politicians," she shot back. Preston's dad was a U.S. senator.