The Lying Game – Sara Shepard

lying game“Sutton Mercer had a life anyone would kill for – and someone did. But thanks to a view from the afterlife and Emma Paxton, her long-lost twin sister, Sutton has a chance to solve her own murder. Emma slips into Sutton’s old life to piece together her disappearance. But can Emma keep up the charade long enough to discover what really happened to Sutton…or will she become the next victim? Let the lying games begin.”

I was intrigued by The Lying Game when it arrived – the blurb outlined an original premise, the cover was simple, effective and arrested – and I was hooked as soon as I started it. The scene opens on Emma Paxton, whose single mother abandoned her at the age of five, leaving her to be passed from foster home to foster home. The closest thing she has to a family is her best friend Alexandra – until, one day, she discovers by chance that she has a twin. Desperate to make a connection with her long-lost sister, Sutton, Emma heads off to meet her. But what she doesn’t realise is that Sutton has been killed, and the messages inviting Emma to meet her have in fact been sent by her murderer, who lures Emma into taking Sutton’s place.

Unsuspecting at first, and waiting for her identical twin to turn up, Emma steps into Sutton’s shoes, trying to make sense of her dysfunctional foster family, seemingly shallow, self-centred friends and her luxurious, materialistic life, eventually coming to the conclusion that Sutton Mercer may not have been a very nice person. This becomes clear when she realises that Sutton was murdered – and by someone very close to her. Now Emma recognises the danger that she’s put herself in, and must find out who Sutton’s murderer is before she becomes their next victim. Did Sutton wrong one of her friends too many times? Or her adoptive sister, Laurel, who seems to hate her one minute and love her the next? Emma tries to put the pieces together, stumbling across more and more of Sutton’s cruel pranks and misdemeanours, but time is running out for the remaining twin…

The Lying Game is a suspense-filled YA read that keeps you guessing at every turn. While some of the characters seem a little two-dimensional, I suspect this is a ploy to spin their different stories out carefully over a series (the story is left on a cliffhanger at the end of the first book). It also fits perfectly as we see everything through newcomer Emma’s eyes; the story unravels for the reader at a matching pace. I look forward to the next instalment.

Many thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

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