Nicholas Searle

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The Good Liar

book | Fiction | Feb 2016
UK & Comm → Penguin (Ed. Mary Mount)

Here is a life told back to front. Here is a man who has lied all his life. Here is a man who is about to pull off the biggest deception of his career. And here is the woman he intends to deceive.

Spinning a page-turning story of literary suspense that begins in the present and unwinds back more than half a century, this unforgettable debut channels the haunting allure of Atonement as its masterfully woven web of lies, secrets, and betrayals unravels to a shocking conclusion.

Veteran con artist Roy spots an obvious easy mark when he meets Betty, a wealthy widow, online. In no time at all, he’s moved into Betty’s lovely cottage and is preparing to accompany her on a romantic trip to Europe. Betty’s grandson disapproves of their blossoming relationship, but Roy is sure this scheme will be a success. He knows what he’s doing.

As this remarkable feat of storytelling weaves together Roy’s and Betty’s futures, it also unwinds their pasts. Dancing across almost a century, decades that encompass unthinkable cruelty, extraordinary resilience, and remarkable kindness, The Good Liar is an epic narrative of sin, salvation, and survival—and for Roy and Betty, there is a reckoning to be made when the endgame of Roy’s crooked plot plays out.


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Kate Cooper manages the translation rights for The Good Liar

Translation Rights Sold

Editions Fayard
Kindler Vlg
Rizzoli Editore
Hayakawa Publishing Inc
The Open Books Co.
Cappelen Damm
Distribuidora Record
Editura Corint
Modernista AB

I was engrossed by Nicholas Searle's story of Roy, a conman out for one last scam, and Betty, a wealthy widow, and the perfect mark. As Roy's life unravels in front of our eyes, and as deceiver and deceived move towards each other with hypnotic predestination, the plot unfolds to a payoff as inevitable as it is shocking. A superb thriller and a truly engrossing read.

Ruth Ware, author of In a Dark, Dark Wood

What a clever and menacing novel The Good Liar is. I was gripped and horrified in equal measure and the ending knocked me sideways! I can’t wait for everyone to read the book so I can talk about it.

Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

The Good Liar is a taut, compulsive thriller with a dark, intriguing heart. A Mr. Ripley for our time.

Jonathan Freedland

[An] engrossing debut . . . Equal parts crime novel and character study, the tale is itself an elegantly structured long con. The pace is almost maddeningly deliberate, with details about the characters and their schemes doled out like a controlled substance, but patient readers will be rewarded with devastating third-act twists and a satisfying denouement.

Publishers Weekly

 [. . .] A gut-clenching cat-and-mouse game . . .  This debut novel is a well-crafted, complex tale that will appeal to fans of psychological thrillers.


A chilling thriller full of twists on truth and lies. 

Amy E Williams
Mail on Sunday

This darkly humorous novel is former civil servant Searle’s first — though you wouldn’t guess that from the skilful characterisation of its protagonist, whose life emerges from a reverse-chronological narrative punctuated with key 20th-century events. Alternately energetic and steady and with a just-deserts climax, this is a part-thriller, part-human condition novel that packs a tremendous punch.

Zoë Apostolides
Financial Times
Full Review

A successful novel is also a sort of swindle (making a fiction sound convincing, misleading the reader about where things are going), although with the difference that a good one should provoke a desire to be duped by the same person again. The Good Liar makes you want to experience Nicholas Searle’s next trick.

Mark Lawson
The Guardian

An absolute treat of a book.

Daily Mail
Full Review

A menacing terror of a book.


Nicholas Searle has written an incredibly dark, taut thriller and it deserves to be a bestseller.

Daily Express

Engaging and poised.

The Independent

A pathological liar attempts to pull off one last con in this tightly knitted debut thriller.


...this is an assured debut from an intriguing new writer.

John Williams
Mail On Sunday