BOOK CLUB: Simply Lies

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“Simply Lies” is a stand alone thriller from David Baldacci, who is probably best known for his multiple series. This is tight and yes, self contained, and should satisfy both his fans and readers coming to him for the first time.

Mickey Gibson had her life blown up by a really bad husband. When he left – disappearing most thoroughly – Mickey found herself the single mother to two small children. She had to leave her job as a police detective, and money is a constant juggle now.

Fortunately, she’s found an excellent job: she works for ProEye, tracking and recovering the assets of the extremely wealthy who would prefer not to pay their bills. If it doesn’t have quite the same satisfactions as police work, well, it’s still investigation and Mickey can do most of her work flexibly from a computer in her house, allowing her to also manage her caring responsibilities.

So when a colleague, Arlene Robinson, asks her to do a field trip to inventory the contents of a nearby mansion, Mickey is pretty keen. It’s a little different to her normal work, gets her out in the field, and might carry a nice bonus. Unfortunately, the inventory includes a recently dead body.

As the police investigation swings into action, Mickey finds that Arlene doesn’t exist, and nor does her assignment. It’s clear that she was enticed to the mansion to find the body – but why? Both the police and her employer are unhappy with her for being tricked.

I have previously read and enjoyed a number of Baldacci’s series novels, including A Minute to Midnight. Those series tend to have an over arching mystery personally connected to the protagonist which runs across books, as well as a complete thriller or mystery plot in each novel. Here all of the major story strands are addressed and some degree of resolution offered.

This novel works because of two main factors: an interesting, empathetic protagonist, and a complex, tricky plot.

Mickey is a realistically drawn character. A lot of people will empathise with the way her life was derailed by her husband and kids. The challenges of balancing kids with work, and her need for adult achievement versus the needs of her kids, are strongly depicted. She’s a believable character, well grounded in a realistic vision of life that many readers will recognise.

The one small quibble that I have with “Simply Lies” is the question of why Mickey doesn’t just call the police and get out of the way. Baldacci presents a reason, but I didn’t find it truly believable and couldn’t viscerally get on board with the risk she was taking by getting involved in the investigation and continuing to spar with the mysterious Arlene.

However, once she’s made that decision and taken the first few steps, Baldacci does an excellent job of convincing you that she can’t back away for fear of threats to herself and her kids. Although I found it a stretch for the initial steps, once she was entangled the danger was real and immediate. It helps draw the reader through the story.

This is a post pandemic novel, with passing references to the increased move to work from home, temperature checks, and similar. It’s subtle, placing the novel in time without making the pandemic particularly relevant to the story.

The plot is appropriately tangled. It’s not quite as grounded as the characterisation, but it’s believable none the less. It’s also hard to work out before Baldacci starts spelling it out. In fairness, there aren’t really enough clues to let the reader solve it in advance, though you’ll be able to figure out some of what’s going on as you read.

I enjoyed this novel a great deal. Although there’s nothing wrong with a good series, sometimes it’s nice to pick up a novel and know that you’re going to feel that you know everything important when it ends. “Simply Lies” doesn’t just resolve the thriller plot, it moves Mickey’s life forward in a way most readers will find satisfying.

Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan (2023)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Simply Lies by David BaldacciYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Simply Lies

  1. Simply lies by David Baldacci
    I always love a good thriller story and this book is certainly that .
    I love the characters in the story which I could bring to life .
    Mickey Gibson is the main character in the story she has had her life changed by her really horrible husband who disappeared and left her to bring up two young children on her own. Micky had to leave her job as a police detective and got a job with ProEye a global investigation company which she enjoyed because she could juggle the kids and work from home .
    Until she receives a phone call from a women called Arlene to go to a job and check out a mansion and take photos to see if there is any valuables left behind .
    But unfortunately for Micky she finds a dead body hidden in a secret room and this is were the plot thickens as the police are now involved and Arlene turns out to be a fake name by the women who told her to go to the mansion.
    What is Arlene hiding and was she involved in the murder so many lies to untangle . Will Mickey find out the truth and what happened to the murdered Daniel Pottinger and was that his real name .
    As the title of the book is called Simply lies the story is full of lies.
    I loved reading this story but as much as I tried to solve the murder myself I couldn’t.
    I had no idea until the end .
    What a whirlwind of a story .
    4 stars 5

  2. Simply Lies by David Baldacci is anything but a simple adventure. The story takes numerous twists and turns and sometimes leaves the reader a little bewildered. There is a full cast of characters to discover, some with multiple identities and their histories and adventures are eventually vividly exposed.
    Mickey Gibson, ex police officer, current private investigator, single mother of two youngsters definitely has her hands full as she solves the riddle of the decomposing body she finds waiting for her in a secret room within an empty very isolated mansion. This is just the beginning as Mickey finds out.

    Very intriguing story! I couldn’t put it down at times.

  3. I wasn’t familiar with David Baldacci’s writing but others in the household were avid fans, and now I certainly see why!
    ‘Simply Lies’ will keep you entertained from beginning to end!
    Mickey (real name) Gibson is a solo mother of two small children juggling parenthood and work. She is emplyed by ProEye an investigation company, this she can achieve by working from home as opposed to the police work in which she has been trained.
    Mickey receives a phone call from an Arlene Robinson, supposedly a contact of ProEye, later found to not exist on their data base. Mickey acts on the call which leads her to an address where she discovers a deceased person, apparently a wealthy recluse.
    She soon finds herself involved in the police investigation, which she enjoys but at the same time is concerned that she may be putting her young family in danger. Especially as she is still receiving calls from the mysterious and convincing Arlene who reveals another name Mickey may call her, ‘Clarisse’.
    Thankyou Beautyandlace and panmacmillan for the opportunity to review this thrilling and exciting read, it’s so good!

  4. Simply Lies by David Baldacci is another one of his unputdownable books!
    Mickey is a somewhat naive ex policewoman/detective/computer specialist single mother who unwittingly is dragged into an investigation by a con woman who is not who she seems.
    She discovers a dead body in a secret room in a seemingly abandoned mansion.
    As the investigation proceeds, Mickey’s life, her safety and the safety of her family is threatened by the different threads she follows to try to unravel the truth.
    Who is the mysterious woman who involved her in this?
    Who was the dead person she found and why was she to be the one who found him?
    A stunning thriller that will have you sitting on the side of your seat waiting for the next clue to be discovered to get to the truth.
    I highly recommend Simply Lies and it is one of the best books I have read.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  5. David Baldacci is a powerhouse author and people I know really enjoy his books. From what I can gather this is a stand-alone book, unless it’s first in a series. Let’s face it, former NY detective turned internet sleuth Mickey Gibson is a fabulous character and I’d love to see what happens to her next. A single mum of two children after her dead-beat husband walked out on her, she’s just trying to make ends meet with her deep net work for ProEye, a global investigative company who ‘find’ things like assets and money the people being investigated would rather not be found. Mickey’s very good at her job, she finds all sorts of things. And then she’s asked to inventory an old house and finds a dead body. And then, and then, and then…

    Things escalate and get complicated very quickly! Most of the players in this book are motivated by money or revenge (and the stories are horrendous). Mickey, however, is motivated to keep herself and her kids – and her family – alive, which is a pretty intense motivation. Fabulously twisty-turny, the stakes here change almost as fast as you can blink. I enjoyed it very much.

    Many thanks to Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy.

  6. I usually love David Baldacci books but this one didn’t really tickle my fancy so to speak. Ex police detective now working for a global private investigating agency Mickey Gibson, is asked to check out a local mansion by “Arlene” in regards to a foreclosure and needing to inventory the house’s contents. Unknowingly to Mickey “Arlene” is not who she says she is and sets her up to find a dead body instead. What follows is a tale full of twists turns, murder and a cat and mouse game.
    Mickey honestly annoyed me, she seemed to take risks with her children’s safety for no other reason than she was intrigued and wanted to see it through to the end. Sometimes I shook my head in disbelief and wondered why the hell is she doing this instead of going to the proper authorities since obviously both her and her father had contacts. Not a bad book but not his best either ‍♀️

  7. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Simply Lies by David Baldacci.

    I absolutely loved this murder mystery!!

    It was so well written with heaps of twists and turns!!

    I didn’t want it to end!!

    This is my first David Baldacci book, and it definitely won’t be my last!!

    Highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  8. This is the first book I have read by David Baldacci and I can understand why he is such a popular crime author. The story definitely has many twists and turns and kept me turning the pages. As a mother, I must say that I thought the character took way too many risks to be believable, but it was still a great story.
    I would definitely recommend this book, and would love to try another novel by the same author.

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