The Telling of Lies

ISBN: 0440550017
ISBN 13: 9780440550013
By: Timothy Findley

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Reader's Thoughts


I feel like every book Timothy Findley writes is a disappointment after I saw what he was capable of with The Wars. This is no exception. It's a neat little murder mystery that does keep you reading, with interesting moments in flashbacks to World War II, but the mystery wasn't satisfying in the way it would be in the hands of a mystery writer, and the tidbits of a compelling history did not sustain the otherwise lacklustre story. Yet again, I am waiting for a novel it seems Findley could only write once.

Jennifer (aka EM)

One of Timothy Findley's lesser known (i.e., minor) works, but displaying his breadth of style with his characteristic deeper exploration of the human psyche. Vanessa Van Horne--socialite, landscape architect, photographer, spinster ("'Young man,' I said; 'what I said to you was: I have never married. I did not say anything about my profession.'"), survivor of a Japanese internment camp and a series of heart attacks--has spent 45 summers at a family-owned, coastal Maine hotel that has seen better days, as have its guests (one in particular). At heart a murder mystery with an eccentric cast of characters, but beyond that a whimsical, even farcical (but no less sincere for it) study of friendship, loyalty and resiliency in the face of the corrupt military-industrial complex. Lots of tongue-in-cheek snideness about Canadian-American relations in the thinly-disguised Reagan years. Oh, and an iceberg. Probably a 3.5, but I'm feeling generous because I needed something light but engaging and this fit the bill perfectly.

Shonna Froebel

Not that great

Daniel Kukwa

I'm not entirely sure what Timothy Findley was trying to demonstrate with this novel. Like Issac Asimov, was he simply scratching the itch to write a mystery novel? Or was he trying to construct a novel about buried secrets and facades, under the cover of a modern, Marple-light investigation? I was moderately intrigued for two-thirds of the page count...only for the novel to completely lose my interest after the introduction of a bevy of new characters that overload the story and stretch out the plot for another 100 unnecessary pages. As far from the usual mood and atmosphere of any previous Findley novel I've read...and not one I plan on revisiting.

Max Karpovets

Timothy Findley is a former actor and radio performer and scriptwriter from Canada who has written one incredible novel (Not Wanted On the Voyage) and quite a few good ones. He won the highest prize of Canadian Literal Association and prize of Canadian Governor-general. The author became popular with publishing two incredible novels – Piligrim (1999) and Spadework (2001). There is no such thing as a characteristic Findley novel, and this is no exception.The story full of secrets, but don’t believe that it is a simply detective story or thriller. We cannot exactly identify what the author tells us about, because a lot of omissions and suggestions. So, the events take place on the south coast of Maine, at a resort hotel with an assortment of characters. The narrator/protagonist, a middle-aged woman, not only tackles and solves the mystery, but intersperses the main plot with memories of her experiences in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War. We do not really know where the corpse has disappeared, why this death has awakened the attention of politicians from the White House. The only hitch in this story random shots of our elderly lady. Had she ever known how these shots changed her life!People who need to read the translated variant can do this with excellent Russian version in well-famous Inostranka (Nina Fedorova did a brilliant work!). Nevertheless, you might spend a good time with this novel. It’s worth rereading. 4


I love Timothy Findley and - with one exception - have loved all his books. But since the disappointment of Spadework I hold my breath a little each time, worrying that I might have found another novel unworthy of him. Fortunately The Telling of Lies is an amazing book, very different from others of his that I've read except for the common thread of wonderfully interesting characters. I rarely find mysteries terribly satisfying - the resolution is usually too mundane, too ridiculous or too obvious. I think this book falls into the first category, but I enjoyed it enough not to particularly care about who did it or why.


I don't care for mystery books; this is a mystery book.

Felice Picano

The late Timothy Findley is one of Canada's best known and most accomplished authors and its a shame that this delightful and openly gay man didn't write much about GLBT matters or characters. But the novels and stories he did write are excellent. The Wars and Famous Last Words, especially. And now this odd little mystery, set in a conservative, traditional Maine seaside comunity. The narrator is a woman in her sixties and most of the main characters are about that same age. Meaning that they have reached a mature stage in their minds and lives --which is a treat compared to reading about inexperienced immature people being stupid. But in the case of some of the men, it means they've reached a height in their powerful political careers, too. When one of the usual guests of the hotel is suddenly found dead, everyone seems to be willing to believe it was illness. But some of the regulars easily see what is not routine about it, and they come to think it was much more than that -- murder. When they begin to investigate, they unearth an amazing, complex, and dangeorus spiderwork of connections leading to the White House and the Congress of the U.S. where power has corrupted absolutely. In this novel, men and women are equal in ability, interestm and eagerness to get themselves into peril-- which is true in life. As one woman says testily when she is called a spinster-- "That is not my profession, I've never spun thread in my life." The book won an Edgar Award for best mystery of the year.


Just one of the okay Findley books.


(Actual rating - 3.5 stars)"The Telling of Lies" chronicles the murder of a pharmaceutical magnate at a New England resort community. It's narrated by Vanessa Van Horne, a prickly 59 year old woman who bears hidden scars. It took me 90 pages to get into this book, which is a pretty long time, considering it's only about 360 pages. However, once I did get into it, I found it very compelling, and I began to enjoy Van Horne's narration.


This is one of the few books I could not finish. It just wasn't worth my time.

Carol Spears

This book was fine, the characters were interesting and the story was crafted nicely. I recently decided that 4 and 5 stars should be reserved for books I wouldn't mind or even would like to read again and this is not one of those books.

Kathy H

I should probably rate this book higher than three stars as it really is a well-written novel. Still, it was hard to get into; I couldn't find the story line as flashbacks and hints to the reason for events, friendships, curious behaviours were strewn all over the first half of the book and only just partially explained in the last half. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for obscure and clever.


Didn't finish it. Drawn out and rambling. Characters were completely out of their time frame. It was supposed to take place in the '80's but the characters were all 1920's vintage. Weird.


"Мне все меньше и меньше по душе собственное подозрение, что коль скоро мир всегда исчезает за горизонтом, то исчезает и жизнь. И что мы — подобно кораблям с парусами и шлейфами дыма — переваливаем через этот рубеж и попросту исчезаем. Лучше б я не верила, что смерть не более чем такое же вот исчезновение. Пятидесятидевятилетнему человеку эта мысль почему-то кажется недостойной, хотя я всегда считала большой удачей, что не разделяю широко распространенный взгляд на смерть как наказание или по меньшей мере расплату. Мне бы очень хотелось примириться с этим на удивление простым научным фактом: мы умираем. В конечном итоге важно только одно — как мы умираем." (с) "Ложь" Тимоти Финдли

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