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My Review of Karen M. McManus's SUCH CHARMING LIARS



This is my SPOILER-FREE review of Karen M. McManus’s Such Charming Liars. I’ll most likely be doing a spoiler-heavy review once the book is published on July 30, 2024.


The story is told from two points of view: that of Kat, a sharp and independent 16-year-old in-training jewel thief, and of Liam, her sweet and naive stepbrother from her mother’s brief Vegas marriage to Liam’s debonair con-artist father. Liam’s father, Luke, and Kat’s mother, Jamie, divorced after only two days; but Kat and Liam still pleasantly remember each other.


Twelve years later, Kat and Liam meet again at the birthday party of billionaire Ross Sutherland at his massive family compound. Kat is there with Jamie, who is working to pull off one last jewelry heist before she and Kate go straight. Liam is there with Luke, who has seduced Ross’s youngest daughter and means to marry her for her money.


Naturally, Jamie and Kat’s heist doesn’t go as planned. Naturally, someone is murdered. Naturally, the culprit is unknown. Naturally, Kat and Liam are quickly thrust together as they try to solve the situation and get out in one piece.

 

REVIEW


I didn’t expect much from this book, judging by its premise. But I tried it anyway because I’m a major fan of heist stories and because I’ve enjoyed all of Karen’s previous books. Boy, am I glad that I did. This book was slow for about the first thirty percent, then it became an unputdownable thriller that maintained velocity until the literal last page. In fact, even the slower startup chapters were ultimately justified as crucial setup information—as tends to happen in heist stories.


The mystery is darker and more disturbing than any of Karen’s other ones, which I loved because I’ve wanted Karen to go darker with her content for quite a while now. This is probably Karen’s most family-oriented book since The Cousins. Most characters are well written with emotional depth and solid backstories. The various twists and turns will be mind-blowing to most readers, though I guessed or suspected many of them in advance (only because of my general familiarity with Karen’s formula and with heist subgenre tropes). And the book ends with a much cleaner sense of justice and closure than tends to occur in Karen’s novels.

 

TRIGGER WARNING/CONTENT ADVISORY


Such Charming Liars is definitely for mature teenagers and new adults. It may be a turn-off for younger kids and/or those with religious sensibilities.


There is abundant foul language, one crucial subplot involves a gay courtship, and said courtship is consummated rather graphically.


Alcohol, drugs, and poison are all present. Major storylines revolve around psychological trauma, tragic accidental death, spousal abuse, and child abuse. Predatorial behavior in its many forms is a major theme. Violence and its threat loom large in this book—larger, in fact, than in any of Karen’s previous works.

 

MY OVERALL RATING



I give Such Charming Liars 4 of 5 cronuts. All told, it’s probably my favorite Karen M. McManus book since One of Us is Lying.


**Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Children’s, and Delacorte Press for providing me with the ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**

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