Tell No Lies introduces us to Daniel Brasher, son of the infamous and powerful Evelyn Brasher and of very rich descent. Brasher chose to leave the family heritage to work as a therapist and he is currently counselling a group of male and female ex-cons and does his best to help these people build a new life.
The sessions take place in a darker area in San Francisco in a building that is slightly derelict. The program’s director, Kendra, reminds him he needs to sign his termination agreement. He ventures into the dark belly of the building to retrieve his mail. Usually he gets mostly outgoing mail in his pigeon-hole by accident and so he hasn’t bothered checking it for weeks. Back at home he sifts through the envelopes and finds the one he thinks is intended for him. He opens it and reads the words ‘Admit what youv done. Or you’ll bleed for it’ along with an already passed date. Brasher becomes aware it is actually a death threat to someone else. He and his wife Cris Google the name and find out that the addressee has already been murdered so they call the cops. Later that night Brasher browses through the stack of mail again and finds two more envelopes apparently by the same sender. Even worse, he realises the ultimatum against the next victim is about to run out in a matter of minutes.
Brasher informs the police but feels guilty for not having properly looked through his mail earlier. The address on the second envelope is close to where he lives so he races there trying to prevent a second murder.
And this is just the mere beginning of Tell No Lies…
Tell No Lies is hard to put down once you started to read it. The reader is gripped right on the first pages as the story unfolds in the best Hitchcock tradition. There were scenes where the suspense was so overwhelming I realised I actually held my book real tight with both hands! Hurwitz really knows how to keep the reader on the edge of the seat. Also, there was a scene involving one of the victims that was gruesome beyond belief and I don’t want to give anything away but that idea was just soul shattering.
As always Hurwitz came up with wonderful main characters, above all Daniel Brasher. Hurwitz instantly makes Brasher likeable by being a rich man that has left his wealth behind to build his own life trying to find his own way. I couldn’t help but wondering how much of Brasher’s reflections about society and the general obstacles of life are actually Hurwitz’ own thoughts. Brasher wants to start a private practice as a therapist and feels like he is somehow betraying his ideals, slowly starting to become a hypocritical arsehole like his terrible neighbours if he does. His inner conflict to try and do the right thing is very understandable and anyone of a certain age can surely relate to that and it makes Brasher all the more tangible as a character.
Apart from Brasher all other figures are written to instantly come to life in the mind of the reader, from the tough female cop Dooley and bodyguard Leo to the members of Brasher’s therapy group and Brasher’s mom of Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter proportions.
I simply loved how Hurwitz takes a swing at that awful new breed of self-righteous do-gooders that think they are saving the world by buying the right kind of products and doing yoga and being charitable, embodied in Tell No Lies by Brasher’s neighbours from hipster hell.
However the most stunning protagonist that plays a vital part in Tell No Lies is someone truly special to me: San Francisco! The way Hurwitz describes San Francisco brought back all those treasured memories of my short holiday in this beautiful city a few years ago. It shows Hurwitz’ true love and understanding for this extraordinary city without glorifying it and denying its darker sides.
‘This was, if nothing, a city of contradictions. Synonymous with freedom, yet home to the world’s best-known prison. The heart of the pacifist movement and the brains of the war machine. The blinding edge of innovation, navigated by cable car. The most East Coast city on the West Coast.’
Gregg Hurwitz is one of the few authors that still get better with each book. The prose in Tell No Lies is simply stunning. Hurwitz’ beautifully crafted words are as stimulating for the frontal lobe as chocolate is for the tongue. Tell No Lies is a definite lecture on how great thrillers should be written.
Gregg, Sir Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of you and I bet he rotates in his grave, unable to bring this great thriller to the big screen himself!
Looking up flights to San Fran now and sipping an ice-cold Anchor Steam beer!
Tell No Lies is available in the UK from August 1st in Hardcover and for Kindle