BOOK REVIEW - BLOGTOUR: The Running Lie, by Jennifer Young
In Cold Crash, when Archaeologist Max Falkland, the Anglo-American daughter of a British peer, meets American John Knox in London in April 1952, her already troubled life takes on mystery.
As the Cold War thriller progresses, Max finds herself in increasing danger, but three weeks after the events of Cold Crash, the point at which The Running Lie begins, Max has found an archaeological dig in London and John Knox has entered her life. But even now, can he be trusted?
Max encounters both skulls and sexism on the dig site at the bombed out shell of St. Bride's Church in London. A family request sends her to the Berlin International Film Festival, away from the dig and her growing relationship with John Knox.
But after she sees John in Berlin with another woman, Max forces him to confess he is an American spy. When his current case collides with her family life, Max has to find a way to navigate layers of lies.
As fireworks explode for the Fourth of July party, Max must make a dangerous choice if she wants to save both John and her family. The Running Lie is a page-turning Cold War spy thriller that reboots old school cloak and dagger Max Falkland is the James Bond of the 21st Century.
The Running Lie is a genre-bending historical thriller-cum-espionage-cum-romance suspense novel that sees the return of the unstoppable Maxine Falkand and her new love interest, the dashing American journalist John Knox.
This may be author Jennifer Young’s second book in the Max Falkland series, but it is a brilliantly crafted standalone read as well. Young has a talent for weaving the first novel into the backstory of the second in such a way that you do not feel that you are missing out for not reading the first book.
The Running Lie starts three weeks after Cold Crash left us, with Max working on an archaeological dig in London, and embarking on the early stages of romance with John Knox. When Max attends a function in Berlin at her Father’s request, she is incensed to find Knox there – using an entirely different name – and with another woman. Knox convinces Max that he is an American spy, the woman is his target, and that Max’s father may be in danger. (I was a bit incredulous at this point, because to me being “a governmental agent on an undercover mission” is exactly what a cheating b*stard would say when caught with another woman. But I put my faith in Max and her intuitive intelligence and therefore my trust in the enigmatic John Knox).
In turn, convinced of his truthfulness, Max is presented with a choice: follow her heart and John Knox or follow her head and keep both herself and her father out of harms way? Whilst this may sound cliched, please don’t go thinking this is a purely romance novel. It is not. This is a historical thriller cum espionage mystery, driven by two lead characters whose relationship develops alongside the taut, suspenseful plot line (although that is not to say that the romance reader wouldn’t equally love this book, especially if you like your romance with a sharper edge).
Again, author Jennifer Young brings us Max, a rich and complex character. She is intelligent and driven, unwilling to yield to the norms of society, especially the norms set out for women. She is independent and an expert but is often forced to work under the authority of men with lesser credentials and ability, something she finds frustrating, but that also drives her to succeed and carve a path for herself. This is an accurate portrayal of the sexism inherent at the time, but also an poignant point of thought in today’s climate (the toxic Will perfectly embodies this sexism, with his drunken attempt to kiss Max, and his misogynistic anger at her rejection).
The Running Lie showcases author Young’s skill at creating intelligent dialogue that both drives the plot forward at breakneck speed and reveals the complexity of the characters and their various relationships. These relationships are also complex and changing, and often contradictory. I like how this reflects the nature of espionage itself – there is trust and then betrayal, there is adversity and hardship, there is conflict (especially for John Knox, torn between the love for his country and his love for a woman, or for Max, conflicted between her love for Knox and her need to protect her family).
For me, The Running Lie breaks the boundaries of traditional genre, exhibiting tropes from a range of fictions, all weaved together effortlessly and artfully. I thoroughly enjoyed The Running Lie and look forward to Max Falkand’s next adventure.
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The Telegraph Bookshop: https://books.telegraph.co.uk/Product/Jennifer-Young/Running-Lie-The/24376117
About the Author
Jennifer Young was born in a small textile town in North Carolina, USA, and moved to the UK in 2001. She has since completed a PhD, become the daughter-in-law of a Catholic priest, and gained British citizenship. Her degrees are from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Cardiff University and the University of Southampton. She is the Head of Writing and Journalism at the University of Falmouth. Jennifer lives in Cornwall with her daughter.
Her novel Cold Crash won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize. Follow Jennifer at www.maxfalkland.com or on Twitter @maxfalkland.