Title: Liar City
Series: Sugar & Vice: Book One
Author: Allie Therin
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 397 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: Anyone who has read Allie Therin’s Historical Fantasies and was charmed by them and her characters will not be surprised to hear Liar City is not only a fantastic cat-and-mouse suspense novel but is also a great intro to two characters who, frankly, couldn’t be more opposite if they tried. The Sugar & Vice series is shaping up to be an emotional roller coaster of a read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A murder has Seattle on edge, and it falls to a pacifist empath—and a notorious empath hunter—to find the killer before it’s too late
It’s the middle of the night when part-time police consultant and full-time empath Reece gets an anonymous call warning him that his detective sister needs his help. At an out-of-the-way Seattle marina, he discovers that three people have been butchered—including the author of the country’s strictest anti-empathy bill, which is just days from being passed into law.
Soon, Reece’s caller arrives: a shadowy government agent known as The Dead Man, who is rumored to deal exclusively in cases involving empathy. He immediately takes over the investigation, locking out both local PD and the FBI, but, strangely, keeps Reece by his side.
As the two track an ever-growing trail of violence and destruction across Seattle, Reece must navigate a scared and angry city, an irritating attraction to his mysterious agent companion, and a rising fear that perhaps empaths like him aren’t all flight and no fight after all…
Review: There is a world out there that equates kindness with weakness, that regards compassion and empathy as “woke”-ness rather than the essential traits that compose the best of us. That world sets the foundation for Allie Therin’s Liar City, a modern day alternate Seattle where empaths are feared at best, believed monsters the world would be better off without at worst.
The introduction to a Seattle where only two empaths reside leads with murder, extraordinary circumstances surrounding the victims’ deaths, and, even more significantly, the identity of one of the victims—a senator who was sponsoring one of the most aggressive anti-empathy bills ever written. With only two potential suspects in a crime that has been perpetrated by an empath, the question in this mystery isn’t so much the who as the how, never mind the why. An empath committing a violent crime isn’t only improbable, it’s virtually impossible given an empath’s lack of self-preservation and inability to defend themselves in favor of caring about the wellbeing of others. Witnessing even the mildest violence causes a palpable revulsion in an empath, forget inflicting it.
But as is the case with so many crimes, there are exceptions to the rule.
Anyone who has read Allie Therin’s Historical Fantasies and was charmed by them and her characters will not be surprised to hear Liar City is not only a fantastic cat-and-mouse suspense novel but is also a great intro to two characters who, frankly, couldn’t be more opposite if they tried. Reece Davies is a man who feels everything, and Evan Grayson is a man who (allegedly?) feels nothing. Reece is puppies, kittens, and baby goats in a trench coat. Evan is untouchable, impenetrable, and impassive standing on each other’s shoulders, dressed up in clothes and passing for human. He is a sentient human being, of course, but he’s called the Dead Man for a reason. Evan is far from apathetic, though. If he didn’t feel, he wouldn’t have a conscience.
Some may say it’s a bold move to begin a series with a main character as grim as Evan Grayson. Especially when pairing him with someone as guileless as Reese Davies. Presumably there is a romance brewing between them, but that’s not this book. This book is about exposing secrets and solving a series of murders, not about two people riding off into the sunset together. This is a To Be Continued. The catch is that I want to know more. Much, much more about this world and the people who inhabit it—including Reece’s sister, Jayme—which deserves all the kudos for making me curious about how a Dead Man falls in love.
There is a message in this book: about conspiracy theories, the media, fear of the “other”, performative outrage, politically motivated violence, and exploitation and greed, just to name a few. As heavy as that is, however, there is some lightness here too. The Sugar & Vice series is shaping up to be an emotional roller coaster of a read.
You can buy Liar City here: