Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason (Gallery Books, February 3, 2015) – I have a thing for Hitchcock. The man knew how to spin a good yarn and dangle tantalizing little clues, all the while beckoning you closer to an ending you’d never suspect. So when the book description for Jamie Mason’s Monday’s Lie included the word “Hitchcockian”, I was all, yes, please, and may I have some more.
Dee Aldritch never wanted to become her mother. Annette Vess was a covert operative, and her children learned all sorts of fun tricks and games from her. But what Dee wanted most was normal, and normal was not something you got growing up in the Vess household.
Dee’s unconventional upbringing is about to come in very, very handy. Married to her college sweetheart for almost ten years, Dee starts to wonder if Patrick is looking for a way out of their blessedly normal life. So she applies all those tricks and games to the life she’s created for herself – and what she discovers forces her to question what she really wants.
The narrative winds its way through Dee’s memories of the spy tools her mother passed on to her mother’s last days, cancer eating away at her body. Some are old; there were games they’d play in the grocery store where they’d earn points for every item they could remember from the shopping cart of the person behind them. Some are new; Dee finally learns how her mother lost her ring finger hours before her mother passed away.
There’s scenes from Dee’s marriage, too, parts from the days and months leading to that final confrontation. I had to wonder at the depth of Dee and Patrick’s marriage, though. It often felt that Dee wanted it to work because it was so far from what she’d known growing up, and the way she goes about arranging their meeting (plotting the best course so their paths would cross, literally) doesn’t exactly speak of love. Patrick represents everything she didn’t have as a child – no worries about whether the phone in the den would ring, no wondering when Uncle Paul (Annette’s handler) would come around again. So, did she truly love him, or did she love what he could give her?
But, it’s not just a story of a marriage crumbling from the inside. Those flashbacks allow us to see just what a force of nature Annette Vess was. It makes you understand why Paul was so keen to recruit Dee and Simon, her brother. Yes, Annette was that good. Though she doesn’t want to, Dee’s getting to live the life of danger and intrigue I dreamed of as a kid – she might not be an international woman of mystery, but dammit, ain’t no one gonna pull something over on her.
During the last few chapters, I kept expecting the orchestra to chime in with the creepy violins, the soundtrack swelling to its final, smashing crescendo as Dee confronts Patrick. It doesn’t, but Mason’s prose made it easy to imagine. Sir Hitchcock would be proud.
ARC of Monday’s Lie provided by the publisher.