Review – Company of Liars

Cover of Company of Liars by Karen MaitlandCompany of Liars, Karen Maitland
Review from 22nd April, 2012

I picked up Company of Liars as my fifth book of the readathon, last night, and read half of it in one go. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay up, but I can definitely say this for it: it could distract me from the pain of gallstones when high doses of anti-spasmodics and opiates could not. I think how much it entertains you will depend on how much you buy into the characters: I was prepared to fall for most of them, and to pity those I didn’t adore, so I got swept up in their story. It’s a relatively slow-paced story, I suppose: the actual threat doesn’t come into the open until almost the end.

There are clues throughout as to what is going to happen, not just what will happen next, but what will unfold throughout the rest of the story. Some of the hints are fairly large; most readers will probably guess ahead of the plot, but it was the pleasure of fitting everything together that kept my interest — this and that I already knew, but what significance it could have…

There are criticisms in other reviews about the range of characters and how well they took each other’s secrets: there’s little shock and outrage at a character who is gay or characters who commit incest. I felt… it is a little anachronistic, but it also worked for me because all the characters have secrets they dare not reveal, and all of them have weaknesses laid bare to the others in their group. They need each other, and can’t afford to have the group fall apart.

I can understand those who found it too slow paced, and those who felt the clues were too obvious. I was a little exasperated by the anagram of one character’s name which hid their identity. That felt clumsy. Still, I bought into the characters and I badly wanted them to do well, and I bought into untangling the mystery. I enjoyed it a lot.

Rating: 4/5

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