Liars Diary

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Overview

A seductive psychological thriller about a woman facing the dark truths at the heart of her family 

Jeanne Cross?s contented suburban life gets a jolt of energy from the arrival of Ali Mather, the stunning new music teacher at the local high school. With a magnetic personality and looks to match, Ali draws attention from all quarters, including Jeanne?s husband and son. Nonetheless, Jeanne and Ali develop a deep friendship based on their mutual vulnerabilities and long-held...

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Overview

A seductive psychological thriller about a woman facing the dark truths at the heart of her family 

Jeanne Cross’s contented suburban life gets a jolt of energy from the arrival of Ali Mather, the stunning new music teacher at the local high school. With a magnetic personality and looks to match, Ali draws attention from all quarters, including Jeanne’s husband and son. Nonetheless, Jeanne and Ali develop a deep friendship based on their mutual vulnerabilities and long-held secrets that Ali has been recording in her diary. The diary also holds a key to something darker: Ali’s suspicion that someone has been entering her house when she is not at home. Soon their friendship will be shattered by violence—and Jeanne will find herself facing impossible choices in order to protect the people she loves.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Daily News
Outright chilling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452289154
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/29/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Patry Francis is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize whose work has appeared in the Tampa Review, Colorado Review, Ontario Review, and the American Poetry Review. She is also the author of the popular blogs, simplywait.blogspot.com and waitresspoems.blogspot.com. The Liar's Diary is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating characters

    I was wandering round Target, waiting for the pharmacy to fill my prescription, and had just reached the books' section when I found it - bottom shelf, red and cream cover with an image of a woman in lacy apparel. I'd looked at several paperbacks already, and it wasn't the picture that enticed me. But the blurb on the back was intriguing. Suburban life falling apart, mutual vulnerabilities, long-held secrets, something darker... those are things I might expect to enjoy. Stunning, magnetic personalities less so, but I decided to buy it anyway.

    The book began gently, with a character I quickly related to - married, insecure, low self-esteem, struggling with the conflicting responsibilities of wife and mother. Her son has problems of his own, and she tries to help and support, never sure where the line between enabling and ennobling lies.

    The husband; is he as bad as the narrator paints, or are we seeing only through her eyes? The friend; is she really out of control or controlling; maybe just another flawed personality with hidden depths? The colleagues... the school... Patry paints relationships and gossip with a clear steady hand. I could hear the conversations and picture the scenes; felt I'd been there; felt like I knew exactly where she'd placed me.

    By the time I reached the top of the roller coaster ride, midway through the book, I realized I'd spent all my time listening to a conversation without noticing it was too late to get away. Actually, I might have put the book down then. I'd reached that point where I need to trust the writer; an advantage established writers have over newcomers, I suppose. I could see the written world falling apart ahead of me, and knew I didn't want to watch dismay devolve into unmitigated disaster. Luckily I'd seen Patry's writing elsewhere, so I did trust her. In the darkest of places, she creates amazingly uplifting articles. So I knew her book wouldn't leave me without hope, and it didn't.

    The reader begins to guess at secrets as the story speeds up. I found myself hooked, unable to stop reading, and wishing I could protect the character from making those so natural mistakes. I thought I knew exactly where I was going till the sudden shock that I didn't guess, and the puzzle I hadn't even realized would need to be solved.

    The characters all stayed true to themselves, true to how I'd come to know them through reading. The dilemmas were resolved; sadness and pain leaving a path open to hope. And the clues all made sense. By the end I knew I'd read a really good book, one which I'd recommend to anyone interested in well-developed suburban characters with dark secrets waiting to derail them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A chilling psychological suspense thriller

    In Bridgeway thirty-seven years old school secretary Jeanne Cross is unhappy with her life especially with her spouse Gavin who controls everything through psychological and economic manipulations. She is also concerned over the behavior of their teenage son Jamie, but Gavin ignores her as boys will be boys. Jeanne has never defied Gavin on anything until vibrant forty-six years old new teacher Alice ¿Ali¿ Mather arrives in town. Jeanne makes friends with the newcomer over the objection of her husband.------------------- Ali¿s élan gives Jeanne renewed hope that she could find something to lift her spirits. The repressed female also knows she envies her new pal¿s ability to remain upbeat and seemingly lives life to the fullest. As Gavin objects and threatens his wife, Ali hops into one sordid incident after another leaving a sad Jeanne to wonder whether her staid existence is superior to the fulfilled life of her friend though she admits morality is boringly tedious. Now Ali insists someone is breaking into her home, but stealing nothing. When murder occurs evidence points at Jamie shaking up further his already confused mom.---------------- This is a chilling psychological suspense thriller told by Jeanne who is shocked and awed with the freedom and spirit of the newcomer. The story line is character driven as the prim and proper Cross family hides their individual vulnerabilities and obsessions from the world, but readers know them due to Jeanne¿s account. The intrusion and murder mystery add depth to an entreating look at disturbed individuals in which the audience will be stunned by realistic fascinating Gestalt like twists in which the obvious is not necessarily the truth.------------------------ Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2014

    really intrigued by plot and great flow to writing.  this was an

    really intrigued by plot and great flow to writing.  this was an engrossing quick read that held me to the end.  loved it. 

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    In the first instance, the book is a first rate mystery that plays fair but keeps the reader guessing to the last minute. More than that, it is a compelling, disturbing and, in the end, deeply satisfying psychological study.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

    What a bargain!

    I found this book in the bargain books section. The cover art grabbed my attention and the dust jacket synopsis furthered my curiosity. I thought this might be the type of book I would write if I were a novelist and at the very least it would get me through.
    I am happy to say that this book turned out to be more than I expected. This was an excellent summer reading purchase and I would recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2009

    Engleby by another name...

    The author's use of the word "zest" on the first page should have tipped me off. Unless you're walking down the soap aisle or touring a winery, that word should not be in black and white. Let me qualify this by saying that once I start a book, I usually finish it, if only to write reviews like this one. While the general plot here is interesting, it is presented as that of a dime-store variant: a book that screams cheap and might have been helped by a little sleaze. Though the accolades describe the book as "creepy," what's really creepy about this book is a plot that seems to have been, if not ripped off from, at least inspired by, Sebastian Faulks' Engleby - but without the fine writing, character development, or "zest".<BR/><BR/>Ms. Francis' writing is annoying as well. You won't find any insightful passages that touch us all on some universal level or beautiful similes that make you stop and think. You just end up saying "What?" What do you say to lines like "gossip was as cheap and plentiful as the rubbery pizza in the cafeteria." Is that from Magnum PI? <BR/><BR/>Then there's the limited vocabulary. I don't know how many times I read, reread, tried to forget, and ultimately substituted my own phrases for her use of "I stammered", "obviously", "tension", "nauseous", "people turned to stare", "George [verb] sadly", "gulped wine", and "surprised". Perhaps nothing captured so completely her range of vocabulary than her usage of "codicil" to refer to a final point someone was making. "Codicil" is a legal document used to re-execute wills!<BR/><BR/>The narration is like tripping down an escalator going up - redundant and painful. Ms. Francis attempts to use a protagonist centric voice that and emulates the insecurities of an emotionally bludgeoned housewife. Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, this was a clumsy and self-conscious effort. The difference between Ms. Francis and her inspiration, Sebastian Faulks, is the difference between a 1940's movie and one from today. Just like a silver screen dinosaur, Ms. Francis treats us to blow-by-blow descriptions of everything from how she picked up and invariably "gulped" a drink to how someone served her antipasto "thoughtfully remembering that I loved artichokes but didn't much care for the fatty meats". <BR/><BR/>Finally, there's the ending. It is identical to Sebastian Faulks' Engleby where the narrator ends up being the killer and meets with a psychotherapist. But while the novel Engleby is breathtaking in the level of delusion the protagonist and the narration descend into, Ms. Francis slaps us all with an optimistic and near happy ending. It goes something like this: Sure, all three family members were jailed for one crime or another, but they're all on the road to recovery. Son is well adjusted, in college, and has a girlfriend. Mother will make parole. And up till now pedophilic/serial-rapist/domestic abusive father is making great strides in therapy and getting back into a constructive relationship with his rape-victim/son. A little far fetched even for the Brother's Grimm. <BR/><BR/>True, this is a page turner - but only because you want to find out the ending. But such is the case with knock-knock jokes. Wanting to get to the end is not by and initself a sign of a great book. It's just evidence that a book ex

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2009

    Engleby by another name...

    The author's use of the word "zest" on the first page should have tipped me off. Unless you're walking down the soap aisle or touring a winery, that word should not be in black and white. Let me qualify this by saying that once I start a book, I usually finish it, if only to write reviews like this one. While the general plot here is interesting, it is presented as that of a dime-store variant: a book that screams cheap and might have been helped by a little sleaze. Though the accolades describe the book as "creepy," what's really creepy about this book is a plot that seems to have been, if not ripped off from, at least inspired by, Sebastian Faulks' Engleby - but without the fine writing, character development, or "zest".<BR/><BR/>Ms. Francis' writing is annoying as well. You won't find any insightful passages that touch us all on some universal level or beautiful similes that make you stop and think. You just end up saying "What?" What do you say to lines like "gossip was as cheap and plentiful as the rubbery pizza in the cafeteria." Is that from Magnum PI? <BR/><BR/>Then there's the limited vocabulary. I don't know how many times I read, reread, tried to forget, and ultimately substituted my own phrases for her use of "I stammered", "obviously", "tension", "nauseous", "people turned to stare", "George [verb] sadly", "gulped wine", and "surprised". Perhaps nothing captured so completely her range of vocabulary than her usage of "codicil" to refer to a final point someone was making. "Codicil" is a legal document used to re-execute wills!<BR/><BR/>The narration is like tripping down an escalator going up - redundant and painful. Ms. Francis attempts to use a protagonist centric voice that and emulates the insecurities of an emotionally bludgeoned housewife. Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, this was a clumsy and self-conscious effort. The difference between Ms. Francis and her inspiration, Sebastian Faulks, is the difference between a 1940's movie and one from today. Just like a silver screen dinosaur, Ms. Francis treats us to blow-by-blow descriptions of everything from how she picked up and invariably "gulped" a drink to how someone served her antipasto "thoughtfully remembering that I loved artichokes but didn't much care for the fatty meats". <BR/><BR/>Finally, there's the ending. It is identical to Sebastian Faulks' Engleby where the narrator ends up being the killer and meets with a psychotherapist. But while the novel Engleby is breathtaking in the level of delusion the protagonist and the narration descend into, Ms. Francis slaps us all with an optimistic and near happy ending. It goes something like this: Sure, all three family members were jailed for one crime or another, but they're all on the road to recovery. Son is well adjusted, in college, and has a girlfriend. Mother will make parole. And up till now pedophilic/serial-rapist/domestic abusive father is making great strides in therapy and getting back into a constructive relationship with his rape-victim/son. A little far fetched even for the Brother's Grimm. <BR/><BR/>True, this is a page turner - but only because you want to find out the ending. But such is the case with knock-knock jokes. Wanting to get to the end is not by and initself a sign of a great book. It's just evidence that a book ex

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2008

    Excellent Book!

    This book was excellent. I will be looking for anything esle she writes. It will keep your attention throughout the whole book with many surprises and twists!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a fascinating psychological character study

    Forty something violinist and composer Ali Mather joins the staff of Bridgeway High School as a music teacher. From her first enthusiastic good morning, the newcomer brings a zest for life as well as the need to be the star whenever she is not alone. Ali lists her marital status as separated. The students are also caught up with this dynamo when she initially tells them to call her Ali, but after a visit to the principal¿s office she winks and says make that MRS. MATHER.----------- Observing Ali¿s antics is thirtyish school secretary Jeanne Cross, a plain looking reticent woman married to a hunk orthopedic surgeon their teenage son overweight, dyslexic Jamie attends the school. Surprisingly opposites Jane and Ali become friends as the newcomer sleeps with much younger shop teacher Brian Shagaury and car dealer Jack Butterfield. Ali keeps a detailed diary that includes her belief that someone is stalking her including entering her home soon her lust for life in the spotlight clashes with Jeanne¿s trinity of mother, wife, secretary.------------- Told from Jeanne¿s perceptive, THE LAIR¿S DIARY is a fascinating psychological character study that looks deep into the souls of the two female friends and to a lesser degree their family members. Jeanne¿s story telling is perfect for the tale as she adds no energy, fitting her personality. Although there are seemingly important moments that get shorted because of the concept of having Jeanne tell the story in her monotonous tone, readers will enjoy this psychological look at opposites converging at a point of no return to what was before.----------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2007

    A riveting tale by a talented new writer!

    The Liar¿s Diary, a psychological suspense novel by debut author Patry Francis, should be tooled in fragrant red leather with gilt edges, and placed on your bookshelf in a place of honor. Be forewarned. When you buy it, allow for an uninterrupted block of time. Forget sleep. The lure of The Liar¿s Diary is strong, for it will call your name incessantly, and your dreams will be filled with Ms. Francis¿s characters long after you¿ve reached the end of this riveting new work. Full of subtle, twisting truths that bob and weave in a surf of lies, The Liar¿s Diary is like a fragile raft on a swelling sea of denial. Carefully selected truths are masterfully revealed as we are thrust into the life of high school secretary Jeanne Cross. The raft soars higher ¿ just enough to almost peer over the whitecaps. Jeanne glimpses half-truths so disturbing she retreats into the safety of her compulsively ordered life. Disoriented and in psychological turmoil, we twist and weave in yet another direction beside her, constantly on edge and guessing until the final page. Jeanne strives to be the dutiful wife, mother, housekeeper, nurturer, and employee. But we quickly learn her perfect life is built on a severely cracked foundation. Gavin Cross, the debonair doctor husband, is a controlling father who bullies his son, feeding an explosive eating disorder that sends Jamie Cross to chocolate for relief. Scenarios of mockery escalate, with full blame for Jamie¿s lack of academic success laid squarely at Jeanne¿s feet. In her picture perfect house, we soon discover a supremely unhappy woman who lives in suburban hell, trying to defend her beloved son and keep peace in the dysfunctional family. Enter Ali Mather, the new music teacher at Jeanne¿s school who flounces into Jeanne¿s staid world of responsibility with flowing strawberry blond hair, fragrant perfumes, and tight jeans, enticing the high school boys and male teachers, and providing hours of juicy gossip for the rest of the staff. Ali, flamboyant, passionate, and unabashedly sexy, is the antithesis of sedate, controlled Jeanne. Yet, through a circumstance not fully understood, Jeanne is drawn to Ali like a powerful narcotic. Ali, married to George Mather, a most perfect husband, has issues of her own. Unresolved childhood traumas send her into the arms of two men in Jeanne¿s town, shocking the quiet community. George, strangely forgiving and still madly in love with his philandering wife, cuts a figure of loving forgiveness. As Ali embraces her hedonistic experiences, including an affair with the school shop teacher half her age, Jeanne reacts with simultaneous repulsion and fascination. But someone is stalking Ali, entering her home and leaving subtle reminders of their presence. Is it one of her lovers? A student? A jealous wife? Her music is desecrated, personal items disappear, but the police don¿t take her seriously. Jeanne struggles to help her friend overcome her fears and abandoned relationships, just when Ali¿s diary disappears and people start to die. The story twists into another realm, shocking the reader multiple times, surging higher now with dark half-truths. Jeanne¿s son is accused of ungodly crimes, and it¿s up to her to uncover the facts. She must discover who¿s lying, in order to save her son. Patry Francis is a gifted deep thinker who knows people and paints them well. Her writing style is engaging and smooth going down ¿ like a big bowl of lime sherbet. First time novelists often try too hard, peppering their prose with ostentatious adverbs and adjectives. But Ms. Francis¿s writing focuses on the compelling story as the movie plays in your head with a clever appreciation of the craft. I highly recommend The Liar¿s Diary to anyone who enjoys a good suspense, mystery, or psychological thriller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2007

    A skillful novel from a gifted new writer

    Reading Patry Francis' novel reminded me not only how much I admire seamless story-telling and suspense, but how, when a writer combines a skillful ear for the language of others, and a skillful hand for writing lively scenes and situations the pleasure of reading is so fine. A wonderful book by a wonderful new writer.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    STERLING READING OF A DARK THRILLER

    This debut novel by poet Patry Francis begins quietly enough. Jeanne Cross is a suburban housewife and mother who works as secretary at Bridgeway High School. She's wed to Gavin, a bit of a jock, and is mother to 16-year-old Jamie who tends to the pudgy and suffers from dyslexia. Jeanne is not particularly thrilled with her life as is revealed in the rather staccato way she describes it. Things change with the arrival of Ali, a violinist and composer with a lust for life and men. She comes to Bridgeway High to teach music and soon beds the married shop teacher. Outward appearances would indicate that Jeanne and Ali are polar opposites, yet they soon become fast friends despite the disapproval of Gavin. Ali, of course, has the upper hand in this relationship as Jeanne is attracted to her new friend's amoral lifestyle. It seems exciting, exhilarating, fun - everything she does not find in her own world and home. As the story unfolds and grows darker Jeanne reveals snippets of herself, long held secrets. Then tragedy occurs and the key to a murder is to be found in a diary. Which diary holds the truth? Voice performer Marie Caliendo (remembered for her narrations of the Nora Roberts O'Hurley series) gives a sterling reading of this story of a dysfunctional family and the puzzles of a human mind. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2007

    Something to Consider

    This started off, for me, as a women's story. Life was changing and Jeanne Cross was wondering about what her future held. She was not too sure of how well she had lived her life up til now....and she was very unhappy. In her need for information and wanting to 'fix' things she knew were not right....she loses her self even more. There are hints abound that Jeanne is not an independent or free thinker and you begin to see where the story is going, but while there are the obvious clues and inferences, I was caught way off guard with this ending. I totally missed it. Maybe because I had picked the 'evil' character from my own prejudices, but this is one to really tackle and finish.....excellent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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