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The Lying Tongue

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  114 reviews
When Adam Woods takes a job in Venice as the assistant to the reclusive writer Gordon Crace, he does not expect that he will end up writing his biography. Nor does he expect the uncanny similarity between himself and Crace's former tenant, who died in mysterious circumstances decades earlier. ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Canongate Books (first published 2007)
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Will Byrnes
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 on ...more
Aug 20, 2008 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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said

I thoroughly enjoyed this duplicitous and might I say, quite creepy, psychological thriller.

Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Throwaway read, pretty well written but not really my thing overall.
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
Mar 13, 2008 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
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, i ...more
Robert Ronsson
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read it to the end but as each page turned I found something else to question. Characters who know things about each other that they have no right to know. Things that are accomplished when there is no time to do them. An over-expository suicide note. Two people who live on top of each other yet have space to spy on each other's most secret possessions. (view spoiler)
Tom 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! ...more
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Utter rubbish. Read 40 pages, NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS. Bored to
Nov 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
read long ago wilson's first novel after many biographies, among which one of patricia highsmith - this one was definitely inspired by ms. highsmith'ripley ...more
Oct 29, 2013 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
Michelle's Book Club Review
The Lying Tongue by Andrew Wilson is one of first books that our book club chose to read when we started our club and it certainly generated a lot of discussion about the characters and the plot.

The Lying Tongue is a psychological thriller about an aspiring novelist, Adam Wood, who becomes the personal assistant to a reclusive writer, Gordan Crace in Venice, Italy. Throughout the book the author slowly reveals true motivations as characters try to outwit each other up to the very end and have u
Aug 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten by: B&N Mystery Book Club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Siri Solheim-Kristiansen
This is a debut novel about a guy wanting to write a debut novel but rather aims for a biography about a successful writer who's only published his debut novel. Confusing? The twists and turns in this story upholds this league of meta throughout the book, and who I like and dislike changed and changed again.

We meet Adam, the recently graduated art history student and writer to-be who's settling in Venezia to get some distance from his life and recent events back home in the UK. He's initially su
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A psychological and gothic thriller that (deliberately) owes a lot to Henry James’ The Aspern Papers and to the world of Patricia Highsmith (Wilson, after all, has written her biography), The Lying Tongue is a fast-paced, entertaining, yet, in my eyes, ultimately frustrating and unsatisfying novel. It’s sometimes compelling, but only now and then, and it’s never as beguiling as it could have been. All this doesn’t mean I didn’t have a fairly good time reading it – I actually devoured it in two d ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very entertainingly sinister novel which rattles along in Venice, London & rural Dorset, telling the story of Adam Woods, a disgruntled & disturbed graduate in Art History who becomes entwined with a one-book wonder writer & his long silence from the late 60s events that altered his life...& will alter other lives too...
It has some bizarre moments but generally reads well; its climax is very gothic & very unexpected, & its atmosphere is very Patricia Highsmith - Wilson wrote a well-received bi
Natalie Rix
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written story with beautiful descriptive language. The book was slow in sections but then picked up the pace in others. I got a bit bored during the slow sections, but in retrospect I can see why it was drawn out in order to build up the plot, teasing out information from the backstories, and building up the suspense and the creepy interactions between the two main characters. Disturbing but playful. I enjoyed how all wasn’t as it seemed and I was constantly second-guessing the true ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, what to say about this book. It was sick and twisted! I had to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen. I definitely did not expect it to end as it did. It was cleverly done, the foreshadowing clear in retrospect. Still, I just couldn’t bring myself to give it five stars because it was a bit too revolting.
Josef Komensky
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great novel. Great amount of suspense. Kind of cat and mice game. Lots of references to old Italian masters and writers. An must for history buff, essentially if the one loves Venice or Italian masters. Not really goody goody book trough.
Alfred Hitchcock should have made this a movie
A dark, suspenseful, cat and mouse plot with rather unbalanced main characters - I couldn't decide if Adam or Gordon was creepier... ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did not like this at all. Stopped after 70 pages, too much else to read!
Karla Rust
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full of surprises. Will read more by this author.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. Wit
Oct 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i ...more
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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."


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