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The King of Lies | [John Hart]

The King of Lies

John Hart creates a literary thriller that is as suspenseful as it is poignant, a riveting murder mystery layered beneath the southern drawl of a humble North Carolina lawyer. When Work Pickens finds his father murdered, the investigation pushes a repressed family history to the surface and he sees his own carefully constructed facade begin to crack.
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Publisher's Summary

John Hart creates a literary thriller that is as suspenseful as it is poignant, a riveting murder mystery layered beneath the southern drawl of a humble North Carolina lawyer. When Work Pickens finds his father murdered, the investigation pushes a repressed family history to the surface and he sees his own carefully constructed facade begin to crack.

Work's troubled sister, her combative girlfriend, his gold digging socialite wife, and an unrequited lifelong love join a cast of small town characters that create no shortage of drama in this extraordinary, fast-paced suspense novel.

Hart's mastery of prose and plot belie his newcomer status as he explores the true heart of a man. An illuminating anatomy of a murder and the ripple effect it produces within a family and a community, The King of Lies is a stunning debut.

©2006 John Hart; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

  • Mystery Writers of America 2007 Edgar Nominee, Best First Novel by an American Author

"[A] stunning debut, an exceptionally deep and complex mystery thriller....Few readers will be able to resist." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a first novel that lunges off the page, just grabs the reader by the throat and won't let go....Hart is a fine stylist, turning phrases with a panache that recalls Raymond Chandler." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (817 )
5 star
 (219)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.0 (340 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (343 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Brian W. Mason, NH, USA 08-11-06
    Brian W. Mason, NH, USA 08-11-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Decent story, lousy narrator"

    The quality of the story kept me listening to this book, in spite of the grating narration. It is truly pitiful that the producers could not have found someone with a semblance of a Southern accent to narrate this story set in Salisbury, NC. Besides that, I find the narrator's approach to the story unsuitable for the protagonist. It just doesn't fit the character.

    The protagonist himself is a pathetic loser, unable to live his own life, unable to even think lucidly. Frankly, he's a jerk.

    In spite of these criticisms, the book is well worth a listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PA Law 07-03-06
    PA Law 07-03-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    133
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    24
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    "An outstanding debut"

    As a former book reviewer I have read many books, but there are some that are really special. This is one of them. The plot is so carefully crafted, the characters so believable, and the writing so lucid that I found it hard to stop listening to this audiobook. A true thriller with an artistic touch. The dialogue, descriptions, and introspection of the central character just absorb you along the way until the shocking and unexpected ending. The narrator also does an excellent job of conveying the story. I can't wait for his next book to come out--maybe it'll be even better!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Saco, ME, United States 01-12-15
    Kate Saco, ME, United States 01-12-15 Member Since 2008

    I love audio and ebooks but only give them a 5 if they hold my attention. An avereage story gets a 3 . Thrillers & Crime are my favorites.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Decent stroy but overly drawn out"

    I bought this book at the time most of the reviews were positive but wish I had waited until more reviews were written. The basic plot is good and I kept listening to find out who was guilty but much of the story line was dragged out to the point I just wanted to groan on several occasions. At almost every point where a couple of characters were having an important conversation, one character had to drag the answers out of the other to the point I just wanted to scream "just answer it already!"

    The main character, "Work" is accused of killing his father; he thinks his sister did it and does a lot of really stupid things that get him in deeper trouble. Near the end of the book he finally just asks her.....dah!

    Without giving it away, once he knows the answer it changes things. I did like the ending and the performance was not bad. I would not want to listen a second time so my basic rating is just a three.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 01-28-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 01-28-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Just a tad short of 4 stars!"

    I listened to this puzzle-murder-legal-procedural-mystery about four years ago. And forgot that I had!!! Found it in my library and about two hours in, I recalled whodunit. And yet everything is so intricate and only dimly recalled so Hart had me again. It's a good listen. David Chandler's merely VERY good. Which means his greatness doesn't intrude. Chandler's presence becomes invisible, which is a MAJOR compliment to an actor.

    My how the lead character changes as this yarn unfolds. It's all about introspection and personal revelation, sometimes in such detail that I wonder if Hart wasn't padding the page count a little. Also, I wish the editor had done a global search for the word "sorry,: deleted half of his findings and used a thesaurus to morph another 50% of the remainder.

    But… Knowing the ending, which I recall came as a surprise the first time through, the layers of plot complexities were even more intriguing. Uh-huh…it's a good listen… Enjoy it, huh?

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 01-19-13
    Mary 01-19-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
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    "Hated it as I was unable to stop listening."

    Johh Hart is a very good writer who makes you feel the pain of his very-definitely-flawed protagonist. The story catches you from the first chapter, even though it hurts and you hang on til the end. First book of his that I've listened to/read, but I will definitely try another.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela San Antonio, TX, USA 02-26-07
    Pamela San Antonio, TX, USA 02-26-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
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    13
    10
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    "Vividly Entertaining"

    In this outstanding suspense novel, John Hart captures the audience with a multitude of diverse characters and a twist and turn of events on nearly every page. From beginning to end, narrator David Chandler commands a magnificent performance in his presentation of Hart's brilliantly charming whodunit. Hart's literary style in creating fictional characters to resemble people any reader could easily know gives the plot an added dash of relish. Coupled with a slew of mysterious events, dramatic sequences and a touch of romance,The King of Lies is a recipe in perfect fiction.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Lafayette, CA, USA 08-02-06
    Mike Lafayette, CA, USA 08-02-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    "don't waste your money"

    I purchased this book based on a review I saw in People Magazine. It was touted as "fast paced" and "action packed" with twists and turns. It also eluded to being similar to a Grishim book.

    I can say NONE of this is true. This is a long, drawn out boring story with a terrible reader to boot. He's monotone, and very unconvincing that this story takes place in the South. The characters are dull, and offer little to spark the imagination. The most interesting piece of plot is about a homeless man - which goes nowhere.D

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Staats Brentwood, tn United States 08-01-06
    Dave Staats Brentwood, tn United States 08-01-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    227
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    "This is rare"

    This is a very rich book. Anyone who does not appreciate it may have read or heard too much truth. I really hope this character returns. Started hoping that around the middle of the book. John Hart is on my list of people to watch for. I heard his voice here but it was in the same vein as Turow. The narrator was good. Glad they didn't have a plummy NC accent doing it. Production value was interesting. I could always hear the tape recorder being turned on and off...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-26-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    0
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    "King of Lies, and other clich?s"

    I'll be the first to admit that the storyline is engaging. The only reason I finished the book is that I couldn't resist finding out "who done it." However, the characters are completely flat. Each person falls into one of two camps: Completely Good or Completely Evil. In fact, I have trouble sympathizing with the narrator from the beginning; the author gives us no reason to! The worst part of this book was listening to clich? and after clich? dribble off the tongue of the overly dramatic narrator. One almost imagines that the author had a list of catch phrases next to him as he wrote the book. All in all, the author clearly has a talent in weaving out an engaging plot, but the character development and writing need some work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph 07-15-06
    Joseph 07-15-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    3
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    "Impressive, But Too Disturbing for Me"

    At the risk of sounding like a Philistine or a cultural lightweight, I must tell you that I could not get into this book. It is probably a great book, but it did not suit my mood. It was so dark and disturbing that I just did not want to live in that world for 12+ hours of audio. I had to abandon the book about 1.5 hours into the program. I thought this book would be a Grisham-type southern lawyer mystery with just a bit more depth. But this book was very different. The author probes the depths of disturbed souls, more like Dostoyevsky. It was not what I wanted for light summer reading.

    Now I must say that it was very well written. The language of each sentence was exceptional. The author has a way of turning phrases with piercing originality-- the kind of phrases that say so much in so few words-- something like Joseph Conrad does. It is almost worth listening to this book just to hear some of the stunningly poigniant sentences that the author has written.

    However, it is a dark world that he writes about and the characters are deeply troubled people. The heaviness of this was exacerbated by the reader's voice and inflection which to me seemed to over-dramatize every sentence. He reads every sentence as if it is the profound last sentence of an epic novel, and this I found to be exhausting.

    With all that being said, I will definitely try this author again on his next book which I hope is just a bit lighter and less troubling.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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