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The Lying Tongue

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  495 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Fresh from finishing university in England, Adam Woods arrives in Venice to begin a new chapter in his life. He soon secures employment as the personal assistant of Gordon Crace -- a famous expatriate novelist who makes his home in a dank and crumbling palazzo, surrounded by fabulous works of art, piles of unanswered correspondence and the memories of his former literary ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published February 20th 2007 by Atria Books (first published 2007)
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Othello by William ShakespeareThe Merchant of Venice by William ShakespeareDeath in Venice and Other Tales by Thomas MannIn the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah DunantVenetian Love Knots by Normandie Alleman
Books Set in Venice
101st out of 226 books — 188 voters
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Italian Fiction
108th out of 125 books — 99 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Will Byrnes
Feb 20, 2014 Will Byrnes rated it liked it
Adam Wood has just graduated from college and has arranged to go to Venice to teach a rich local English. In return he will have a place to stay and much free time in which to pursue his dream of writing a novel. That deal falls through on arrival, but he finds instead Gordon Crace (there has to be a pun on the word disgrace in there somewhere) an eccentric Brit, author of a best-seller in his 30’s, now living a Howard Hunt existence in a filth-caked house, not writing any more. In fact, that ...more
Aug 20, 2008 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
In old Venice, in the days before refrigeration, wine was kept in cool, shadowy places where the sun never penetrated (caves being out of the question, of course, in that water-logged city). In The Lying Tongue, Andrew Wilson mentions this arcane fact, perhaps because it is just such places in modern Venice that he has used for the setting of his novel.

This book is aptly described as a "psychological thriller." Sneaking a letter out of a mailbox, a furtive phone call--these aren’t generally the
Dec 05, 2009 Ivan rated it really liked it
I only read about this novel last Friday. The cover photograph caught my eye. Then I read what the book was about and that the author is the acclaimed biographer of Patricia Highsmith - a favorite. I knew I had to read it. I rushed out and found a copy and devoured it over the weekend.

Recently graduated from University, would be novelist Adam Woods can't believe his good fortune in landing a position as personal assistant to the reclusive writer Gordon Crace. Crace is an enigmatic figure. Forty
Oct 29, 2013 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thriller with a gothic feel about it (even the cover of this edition gives off a kind of gothic atmosphere) that flits between London, Venice, London and Venice again.

For various reasons, some of which become clear later in the book, Adam Woods wanted to get away from London and applied for a job as an English teacher to an Italian family. However, it fell through but the family recommended that he try for a job with a one-time author Gordon Crace, who was looking for a general factotum having
May 27, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the literary thriller
Adam Wood is a young Brit who's moved to Venice to try and write a novel. He ends up working for Gordon Crace, a reclusive writer. Adam discovers that Gordon is not all he seems and sets off to find out more.

Sounds boring but I'm trying not to give away too much. Let's just say that Adam Wood is not all that he seems either, and our discovery of his less-than-wholesomeness draws you in the same way a car crash by the side of the road slows all the traffic down as everyone cranes their necks out
Oct 31, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
This book was a descriptive great mystery ala hitchcock set in Venice. It has all the great elements with wonderful plot twists at the end, some art history thrown in and english boarding school antics to boot. I wouldn't say it's the best read ever, but I will say that I couldn't put this book down and was hooked till the END.

The author is a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith and it shows---in fact, he's even written a biography on her and I think that's next on the list.
Thomas Walsh
This is a tightly-packed and surprising murder mystery. The main chanracter fools us. The wrong people seem to die. You don't really know who to believe. And, the writing sytle makes all this happen. I read it through the weekend, wish lots of "O No!" and "It can't be" coming out of my brain. I read one page and I was hooked!
Feb 21, 2013 Jeanne rated it it was ok
a suspensful book..but the ending left something to be desired. not really sure how crace knows everything adam has done. but a good read.
Jul 02, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Wilson is the author of a highly renowned biography of Patricia Highsmith and THE LYING TONGUE is his début novel. In an interesting move the author starts his first novel with the comment "This is not the book I wanted to write. This is not how it was supposed to be at all." All I can say is if he writes what he wants to write and it turns out as good as this one, then bring on the next novel.

Adam Woods is a young man with a degree in Art History and a vague desire to write a novel. With
Sherry (sethurner)
"Wherever I went I saw a question mark at the heart of the city."

This first sentence is intriguing, but don't let that fool you. There isn't much intriguing in this novel. I chose it because we're headed to Venice next month, and I wanted to read a novel set there. The idea of the plot is fine. Adams Woods is a young English man who arrives in Venice to teach English to an Italian couple's son. When that falls through he gets another job as personal assistant to a British writer, Gordon Crace. A
Kirsten *Don't Be A Grinch*
Aug 26, 2008 Kirsten *Don't Be A Grinch* rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten *Don't Be A Grinch* by: B&N Mystery Book Club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 11, 2007 Cecilia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all
Shelves: favorites
A great mystery set in the always-mysterious city of Venice and filled with enough dreary, dark images to last for three books. Author Andrew Wilson does a fabulous job of setting the perfect stage for his potential crimes...we get pulled in right from the first few pages. The plot involves a British young man, Adam Woods, who is determined to write his novel. He gets a job offer in Venice and sees this as the perfect opportunity to spend his free time writing. Once in Venice, the job turns out ...more
Jul 19, 2008 Anna rated it it was ok
The characters were all wrong. The main character had no motivation, he was apathetic about EVERYTHING, and by page 40, we still had no idea what his name was or the overarching goal of the story. Despite the lying, violent plotting, and murderous rage that occurs during this part of the book, it dragged, and I think Wilson’s use of a first-person narrator contributed to that. The one thing that made it so difficult for me to finish the book was that Adam had not one redeeming quality. I ...more
May 27, 2008 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: litwithatwist, 2008
So, this is one of those books you read for the things that are revealed, and to see if you can guess what's coming. You're given two characters, one old and one young, neither of whom are what they seem, and the setting of Venice, which in this case is rather creepy, given that most of the time we're trapped in a claustrophobic palazzo with the two duelling characters. Lots of detail on Italian art in the beginning, such as disemboweled saints, practically buy the reader a clue that this book ...more
Margaret Barnes
Jan 31, 2014 Margaret Barnes rated it really liked it
A psychological thriller by the author of Mad Girls Love Song, a biography of Sylvia Plath. When Adam Woods becomes the personal assistant of Gordon Crace,he sees a way of furthering his own career as a writer by writing the biography of his employer. As he, unknown to Crace, researches Craces past, he learns about the scandal that brought Crace to Venice and the reason Crace has only written one bestselling novel. The two men play a game of cat and mouse with each other until the bitter end.
Jan 28, 2013 Iris rated it it was amazing
omigoodness - loving this book right now! can't wait to finish!

update: this book was good and has become one of my favorite books of the year. i love the atmosphere of the old crumbling palazzo filled with old tapestry and artworks. the elderly-eccentric Crace who is an author - famous for writing only one book had something to hide and Adam Woods, a young man there to work as his houskeeper/companion from London thought he was so slick in his research and trying to find his secrets.

The Lying To
Jan 12, 2010 Tory rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 29, 2009 Heather rated it liked it
This one grew on me. The start was fine, but the middle third of the book dragged on with too much description. The plot line works well with the eventual outcome, but at some point, you wondered if the kid was even going to make it back to Venice and if the plot was going to end without a reunion with Crace. The last third was suspenseful, but I disagree with the review/summary that said readers would be surprised by the ending - the details sure, the premise, no. I felt the setting in Venice ...more
Kyle Gio
Oct 31, 2012 Kyle Gio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The whole plot was amazing, I don't know why this book isn't that popular. Though, there were some parts which felt a little flat, this suspence/mystery book can be compared with Dan Brown's pre-Robert Langdon books.

Adam, a fresh graduate from London, went to Venice to leave his past and start a new life and write a novel. But when he arrives, all his plans change and he meets an eccentric, former best-selling author, Gordon Crace, to take him as a personal assist
Aaron Kuehn
Wow! I’ve never read anything like this before. Very different and an ending that was an honest surprise. It follows a recent college graduate who isn’t quite sure what to do with himself. He knows he wants to write the novel that’s in us all, but he needs an inspiring location and time. So he agrees to be a help-mate to an elderly, dying, recluse of an author. They become very close friends and his own book moves to the back burner so he can take advantage of his unique access to his benefactor ...more
Mary Wagner
Jan 23, 2010 Mary Wagner rated it liked it
I'm quite up in the air on this book. While it dragged at times, and I didn't really like any of the characters, I was still interested in how the book would be resolved. The book had the potential to be very good, but I felt it fell flat in terms of dialogue and some details. This is a bit contradictory, as I felt that it was long-winded, so I typically wouldn't want more details, but there were parts that needed greater explanation.

I can perhaps provide an explanation for the lack of greater d
Oct 24, 2007 Brooke rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007, general-fiction
Andrew Wilson wrote Patricia Highsmith's biography, and his debut novel The Lying Tongue is appropriately about a young man who decides to write the biography of a reclusive elderly author. I'm not going to reveal any more about the plot, because part of the awesomeness is the way Wilson slowly deals out information about the characters, bit by bit. It's a work of masterful plotting, the way things unroll at just the right pace.

If you're looking for a relatively quick (300 pages), eerie read wit
Jun 18, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare books that straddles the line between erudite and fun! When Adam graduates from university in England, he decides to take on a tutoring job in Venice so he has time to work on his novel. When that falls through, he decides to work for reclusive, idiosyncratic former best-selling author Gordon Crace, whose past everyone wants to unlock. Adam sees this as his chance to find out about Crace's scandalous past and takes on a new writing project: writing Crace's biography. ...more
Jill Amadio
Sep 24, 2014 Jill Amadio rated it really liked it
This psychological thriller is a two-or-three time read to fully enjoy the plot twists and Venice, Italy that few visitors experience. The story features a retired best-selling British author turned hermit who hires a young aspiring novelist as an assistant. The tale turns horrific as a cat-and-mouse game ensues. Not until the startling conclusion does the reader feel compelled to start again at page one to fully appreciate author Wilson's talent. His descriptions of both lead characters, and ...more
Jan 29, 2009 somecandytalking rated it it was ok
I did not enjoy this novel. Though the basic plot line is intriguing, Andrew Wilson does little to dazzle the reader. His characters all speak with the same diction and rhythm making the dialogue monotonous. Wilson makes it impossible for the reader to sympathize with any of the characters because their actions are not admirable or redemptive in any way. This would not be a serious flaw if it were obvious that Wilson had intended for his characters to appear as creepy and jaded however, to me, ...more
Dec 24, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
I picked this up as a read alike for "Night Film" by Marisha Pessl, and at first blush, it certainly seems to fit the mold for a dark frame mystery. I was enthralled by the descriptions of the crumbling Venice palazzo and the claustrophobic relationship that developed between the central characters. I was even along for the ride when the plot deviated back to England but unfortunately the gusto behind the plot suddenly seemed to fizzle. The ending was cliched; almost as if the author either ran ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it
The Lying Tongue swept me up in its action right away, and at first I enjoyed how the author kept me guessing with subtle revelations that changed my allegiance for the main characters. Should I have sympathy for would-be novelist, Adam Woods... or for the wizened hermit, Crace, for whom he worked? Ultimately, though, the author lost me as the book's plot grew darker and darker. Why go the sociopath route when once could have just delved into the wrongdoings of everyday people? As it was, I ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Hol added it
Found this in a weekend cottage rental in Texas and read it sitting on the porch, happily surrounded by cypress trees and birdsong. Otherwise I wouldn’t have skimmed to the end. What interested me about it was identifying what I saw as its first-novel flaws: for instance, the protagonist turns out to be amoral/essentially nuts, which makes no sense but is necessary to all key events in the plot. The author previously wrote a biography of Patricia Highsmith, who he was obviously trying to channel ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Renee rated it it was ok
This is not a bad book, but by the end I just wanted it to be over. The first part was intriguing, and I was excited to find out more about the central mystery, but then the main character started to creep me out. He has a very disturbing lack of conscience, which may be literarily interesting, but by the end left me wanting to take a shower and hoping I wouldn't have nightmares.

Hopefully this is the last in my unfortunate recent trend of reading interesting mysteries with characters I can't sta
Kamilia Aziz
Jul 03, 2013 Kamilia Aziz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Who would have thought an old innocent guy who's waiting for his end is gay and still able being aroused by mmm well, yummy guys. Innocent/goody two-shoes girls, please don't read this book. *smirks*

I read this book a few years back when I was doing my A-Levels but I can still remember the storyline, every bit of it! It's a well written novel and a page turner! There's something about the setting of the novel that makes me want to live there. Even with an old prick!
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About himself:

"I'm a journalist and author. My work has appeared in the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the New Statesman and the Evening Standard magazine."

More about Andrew Wilson...

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