Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney

Rachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . . They have everything.
However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.
Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David's darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .

The Liar's Chair is published in hardback by Mantle (Pan MacMillan) on 15 January 2015 and is Rebecca Whitney's debut novel.

Rachel and David Teller; partners. Partners in a successful business and partners in marriage. How they appear to colleagues and associates is very important, it is important not to let anyone scratch beneath the surface, for if they do, the poison will seep out.

It is the morning after the night before. Rachel is driving her shiny, fast sports car down the narrow twisting roads near to their perfect home. She's probably still drunk, she reeks of sex with another man, she's intent on getting her story straight, making sure that David is not suspicious. Her mind is on other things, she certainly didn't expect to see anyone in the middle of the road. God, she's sorry the tramp is dead, but she needs to hide the body, get home and clean herself up.

The death of the homeless man with the briefcase is the event that finally fractures Rachel and David's marriage for good. David deals with things in his usual way, he controls it, he pays for it, he ensures that no traces are left .... just as he does with their marriage.

Rachel and David are characters who are easy to hate. David is controlling, sadistic, ruthless and incredibly plausible. Rachel is teetering on the verge, she's flaky, she's haunted by events from her childhood and now has the death of a stranger on her conscience.

As David uses this incident to his advantage by increasing his terrifying hold on Rachel, she self destructs. There are incidents of self-harming and of casual sex. David's cruelty appears to have no boundaries and Rachel's mind slowly unravels until she cannot function any longer.

Rebecca Whitney is a new talent to watch out for. Her ability to create sinister, almost crazed characters is incredible. There is something about this story that makes the reader feel a little grubby whilst reading, there is a voyeuristic feel to it, as though you know that you really shouldn't, but you really can't help but keep watching, and reading.

The Liar's Chair is an excellent debut. It is psychologically thrilling, it is challenging and it is often an uneasy read. The author's characterisation is wonderful, but don't expect to actually like any of them, they are a bunch of cold and calculating, yet absolutely realistic people but at the same time are fascinating in a very dark sort of way.

My thanks to Sam Eades from Pan MacMillan who sent my copy for review.

Rebecca Whitney studied Creative Writing at Sussex. She has a background in film and television production and now runs a business with her film maker husband.

They live in Brighton with their two children.

The Liar's Chair is Rebecca's first novel.  She is working on her second.

Follow her on Twitter @RebeccaJWhitney

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