Running Lie

Written by Jennifer Young
Review by Marilyn Pemberton

Dr. Max Falkland is the daughter of the Home Secretary, is extremely rich, is a trained archaeologist, can fly a plane, and her lifestyle, lack of a husband, and dress attire are a constant source of distress to her mother. John Knox, or is it James Carter, is a journalist, or is he?

Set in 1950s London, Berlin and Norwich, The Running Lie is a sequel to Cold Crash (Cinnamon Press, 2017), and not having read it, I found it hard to understand why Max and John’s relationship was so intense after such a short time and why Max is considered to be so unconventional. The Running Lie is promoted as being a page-turning Cold War spy thriller and an explosive sequel to the first book. The first two-thirds, however, are very tame and focus almost entirely on Max’s choice of clothing and her uncertainty about her relationship with John; can she trust him? Is she ready for marriage? Is he, especially when she discovers that he is a spy working for the US government?

The book only gets relatively exciting in the last third but even then, although Young pulls no punches in describing the violence and cruelty of the baddies, there are no real surprises, and I did not find the plot or characters very realistic. If I had read Cold Crash I might well have engaged more with Max and John and therefore cared what happens to them in The Running Lie, the denouement of which is so improbable that despite it obviously being meant as an enticing taster for the next in the sequel, I am not tempted in the least.

If you are a lover of Cold War spy thrillers, then I do not recommend this book; if you love romance with a bit of action, or if you are already a fan of Max and John, then you might enjoy it.