The Wild Rose Press
May 15, 2023
ISBN 978-1509248971, 298 pages
Tom Dashiel is a psychotherapist with a lot of life experience behind him. Still licensed but retired from an earlier career as a private investigator, he’s building a sustainable practice in his hometown of Santa Cruz when a new client, George Arundel, comes in for his initial consultation. George is blunt and uncooperative, not an attractive client until he tosses out that one of his friends is an angel. Intrigued, Tom wants to know more about this difficult man, and George most decidedly delivers. Soon Tom is involved up to his eyebrows with multiple personality disorders, angel sightings, and a vicious serial killer running amok in the city.
Murder for Liar is a new psychological thriller by veteran author Verlin Darrow, and this unique tale of mystery and deceit will keep readers glued to its pages. Cleverly told, readers follow Tom’s journey to unravel the truth behind his new client and find a way to help a young woman who believes she might be the serial killer’s next victim.
Tom is a large man, and his body is a testament to the trauma he has suffered in his past. His face retains the scars from a car accident, and his knees are approaching a critical stage in their shelf life. He’s not a man of smooth, graceful movements, and the story’s delivery seems to mirror his physical mannerisms, and even his speech, in an almost noirish style. For example, in talking about his ex-wife, Susan, Tom explains her contradictory nature saying, “Her voice was honey; her eyes were loaded howitzers.”
The story is mesmerizing, with Tom trying to understand and help George, who presents manifestations of a multiple personality disorder. The plot subtly shifts as the results of their sessions together switch focus from George to Tom and the client’s perplexing claim. Tom’s bewilderment is tangible as his control over the sessions, and his sanity, wavers.
Descriptions of the people Tom meets—clients, his few friends, and professional acquaintances—are plentiful in the story, and all mention specific details about their eyes. Tom is acutely attuned to what a person’s eyes reveal about their state of mind and intentions. Perhaps this is a hint to readers that not everything seen is as it seems.
Consequently, the book is loaded with twists and turns. Just when the plot seems to be headed in one direction, the action sends the main character down an equally compelling and shocking new path. Through it all, Tom keeps adjusting to each new reality, looking to his therapist for help, and even seeking out the assistance of spiritual advisors. Tom talks to many people to discover the truth behind George’s claims and mission but intermingled with his investigations are adrenaline-rushing, gasp-inducing action sequences that gain momentum in the book’s eleventh hour.
With its engaging protagonist and ever-surprising plot, Murder for Liar is recommended for readers who enjoy intriguing psychological mysteries.
Verlin Darrow is a psychotherapist who lives with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near the Monterey Bay in northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary. Verlin is a former professional volleyball player (in Italy), unsuccessful country-western singer/songwriter, import store owner, and assistant guru in a small, benign spiritual organization.