I received this book for free from Meryl Moss Media in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Once a Liar by A.F. Brady
Published on January 29, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Meryl Moss Media
Peter Caine, a cutthroat Manhattan defense attorney, is extremely adept at his job. On the surface, he is charming and handsome, but inside he is cold and heartless. A sociopath practically incapable of human emotions, he has no remorse when he fights to acquit murderers, pedophiles and rapists.
When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of the Manhattan DA—and Peter’s former lover—is murdered, Peter’s world is quickly sent into a tailspin as the DA, a professional enemy of Peter’s, embarks on a witch hunt to avenge his daughter’s death, stopping at nothing to ensure Peter is found guilty of the murder.
Peter sets out to prove his innocence, and as he pieces together his defense, he finds that it’s those closest to us who are capable of the greatest harm.
Peter Caine is not your average protagonist. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Caine views his only son as an accessory built to aid in his climb up the career ladder more than a person. The same principle applies to every woman he’s ever dated, or worse, married.
Knowing this, it isn’t so unbelievable that someone like Peter Caine, an accomplished, cut-throat, heartless criminal defense attorney, could become the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Did Peter Caine brutally stab Charlotte Doyle thirty times? The daughter of his known adversary, Harrison Doyle? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, Peter is the perfect scapegoat.
But just because someone exhibits antisocial and sociopathic tendencies doesn’t mean they’re capable of violence.
The sentiment mentioned above is the one at the heart of Once a Liar. One I didn’t feel the story explored to its fullest extent. Once a Liar is a compelling read. Brady does a fantastic job of intricately plotting the details of the central mystery.
I suspected the ending of this story long before the book arrived there. Once a Liar is a novel you could reread and find all the clues laid out perfectly for the untrained eye to gloss over. Predictability, in this case, works in favor of supporting Brady’s attention to detail.
However, I have mixed feelings about how the book ends. I’m not so sure I agree with the novel’s takeaway lesson of justice and morality. Does the punishment fit the crime? I don’t feel like it does, in this case.
Aside from the plot itself, Brady crafts and builds a complex world of chess pieces. Every character has a fleshed-out backstory, sometimes to the point of excess.
These characters breathe and jump off the pages — all except one, Charlotte Doyle. Her character is woefully underdeveloped. She is used more as a plot device than as a human being. It’s fitting, given her purpose in the story, albeit still a smidge disappointing.
If you’re coming into Once a Liar expecting a fast-paced, taut thriller, then I do think you’ll be disappointed. This book is more than that. The pacing is keeled, the reveals slow and deliberate, and it makes the story more engrossing.
Once a Liar works more as a character study and exploration of the criminal mind games at work every day in politics. You need to understand the rules of this world first before delving into the murder, which doesn’t occur until almost the mid-way point of the novel.