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Publisher's Summary

John Hart creates a literary thriller that is as suspenseful as it is poignant, a riveting murder mystery layered beneath the southern drawl of a humble North Carolina lawyer. When Work Pickens finds his father murdered, the investigation pushes a repressed family history to the surface and he sees his own carefully constructed facade begin to crack. Work's troubled sister, her combative girlfriend, his gold digging socialite wife, and an unrequited lifelong love join a cast of small town characters that create no shortage of drama in this extraordinary, fast-paced suspense novel.
Hart's mastery of prose and plot belie his newcomer status as he explores the true heart of a man. An illuminating anatomy of a murder and the ripple effect it produces within a family and a community, The King of Lies is a stunning debut.
©2006 John Hart (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

Mystery Writers of America 2007 Edgar Nominee, Best First Novel by an American Author
"[A] stunning debut, an exceptionally deep and complex mystery thriller....Few readers will be able to resist." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a first novel that lunges off the page, just grabs the reader by the throat and won't let go....Hart is a fine stylist, turning phrases with a panache that recalls Raymond Chandler." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Deborah on 06-21-06

For the Eyes Only

This is a beautifully-written book. I live in North Carolina about four hours from Salisbury (Sols-berry) where this story takes place. John Hart has pinned small town society right to the mat. He writes in a metaphor-rich southern cadence and really puts the reader in the moment. The reader can literally "watch" the story because it is written so completely well.

The real gripe I have is that the company in charge of hiring a reader for this book must need a new talentscout. They made a terrible, terrible choice. Not only does the reader not have a Carolina accent, he doesn't have any kind of Southern accent at all. He reads aggressively, like a hard-nosed detective rather than a gentile southern lawyer with a near-broken spirit. I just can't believe the recorded reader missed the heart of the book so very completely.

I would highly recommend this book as a "must read" book, in both senses of the term.

It's a great mystery/thriller, wonderfully and achingly written, and for those readers who have lived in the south and are aware of the carved in white pillars class distinction, it is bang on the head of what that class separation is all about.

It's a very satisfying book and one I will definitely "read" with my own eyes next time.

I can't imagine what Recorded Books was thinking...Mickey Spillane reads Harper Lee. Sheesh.

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115 of 119 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Byron on 06-22-13

Did you read John Hart's Debut Novel? You Should!

I was first introduced to Hart about three years ago with his book The Last Child, and having already read his third and fourth books, I finally got around to reading this debut book. And we are now 4 for 4.

This novel about a lawyer and his family is much more about dysfunctional family relationships than it is about anything having to do with the law, so it is more of a murder mystery than a legal genre. But there is a fair amount of insight into both the process that law enforcement uses to focus on suspects and on the strategy that one might use if they wanted to present themselves as an alternative suspect, diverting attention from a family member who may be the one who is truly guilty.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the author's method of back-filling the story. You meet the characters and then, through one device or another, you eventually get to find out the story about that character. The entire book is told from the perspective of the main character, "Work" Pickens, who could best be described as a pompous, arrogant, and only marginally sympathetic, jerk. My negative reaction to him was heightened by his self-absorbed perspective in the story. In his eyes, almost everyone in the story is a villain, and I would have to assume, that had I been in the story, he would not have liked me either.

Enough about the book... go ahead and read it. But I want to further compliment Hart. In his first 4 books, he has written four very different books. The common element: they all end well. The highest praise I can give Hart is that I am satisfied with his endings. Not saying I necessarily "liked" the endings, but that I feel like he finishes the book by resolving the issues he has created through the course of the book. I can enjoy a book that does not finish well, but it sure is more satisfying to feel like the author has successfully taken you on a journey that arrived at the intended destination. I can't wait for book #5.

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34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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