Psychology is cool and all, but it can be scary as hell. | The Good Lie by A.R. Torre


Psychiatrist Dr. Gwen Moore is an expert on killers. She’s spent a decade treating California’s most depraved predators and unlocking their motives—predators much like the notorious Bloody Heart serial killer, whose latest teenage victim escaped and then identified local high school teacher Randall Thompson as his captor. The case against Thompson as the Bloody Heart Killer is damning—and closed, as far as Gwen and the media are concerned. If not for one new development…

Defense attorney Robert Kavin is a still-traumatized father whose own son fell prey to the BH Killer. Convinced of Thompson’s innocence, he steps in to represent him. Now Robert wants Gwen to interview the accused, create a psych profile of the killer and his victims, and help clear his client’s name.

As Gwen and Robert grow closer and she dives deeper into the investigation, grave questions arise. So does Gwen’s suspicion that Robert is hiding something—and that he might not be the only one with a secret. – Goodreads

TL;DR: The Good Lie features a complex web of relationships that force you to think about who – or what – people truly are and whether you’ll ever really know them.

I’ll be honest: I was not expecting a tight thriller like this one from a popular romance novelist, but to say that I’m pleasantly surprised is an understatement. The Good Lie is a well-written, albeit depressing, thriller that explores not only psychology but also relationships, both familial and romantic.

Before I get ahead of myself, though, let’s start with the plot. There are two conflicts that arise within the story: the first is the death of one of Gwen’s patients, and the other is, obviously, the Bloody Heart Killer. You’re left in the dark for the majority of the book as to how these two events connect, but when you find out why and all the other intricacies to their connection, you want to go *face palm* because that’s exactly what I did.

Adding onto the plot is the relationship between Gwen and Robert as well as our presumed culprit, Randall Thompson. First, the relationship. It’s obvious that there will be a little romance between the two from the very moment they meet, but I didn’t mind: sure, is it used more often than not in thrillers? Yes. However, their relationship is rather natural and progresses the way that you’d expect it to progress when more and more secrets divulge between them. Second, Randall Thompson. Okay, I was totally not expecting that of him, and thus, I was pleased that the author did not take the easy way out in developing her characters. Not to mention the other prominent characters in this novel – they’re all complex in their own ways, which goes to show just how much of a mindfuck human brains – and psychology – can be.

Ugh, I know all of that is vague as hell, but I really don’t want to spoil anything because I, for one, hate spoilers, and thriller is literally the worst genre for spoilers. So, I’ll keep my lips sealed…

…except to say that I’ve never felt so heartbroken for main characters before in a thriller. Gwen and Robert under their own inexplicable pains throughout this journey, and the emotions they feel – while I’ve never experienced and will hopefully never experience – are palpable. The things that Robert, especially, had to endure and will have to endure for the rest of his life still make me upset and furious. I mean, the sheer emotion within just 257 pages is just remarkable.

Finally, let’s talk about the psychology presented in this novel. Again, I don’t know how factual it’s portrayed and described in the novel (I, unlike most clever students, never took Pysch 101 in college, oop), so I can’t say anything to that. However, I believe that the psychological facts helped ground this fictional story – these fictional murders – in a reality that it would not have been otherwise. I enjoyed that a lot because, though I knew I was reading fiction, I felt like I was seeing a true crime episode on Netflix unfold in front of me.

With elaborate characters, connections that tie up loose ends, a heartbreaking journey of murder and survival, multiple perspectives that heighten the suspense, and important questions that challenge our belief in good vs. evil, A Good Lie is the best thriller I’ve read in a while.

Content warnings

The Good Lie by A.R. Torre contains topics of grief, suicide, and mental illness. The novel also features non-graphic depictions of violence, murder, sexual assault, pedophilia, and kidnapping. There is strong language as well. Please read at your own risk.

Read: 02/22/23 – 02/23/23

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