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The King of Lies

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  10,082 ratings  ·  1,170 reviews
Jackson Workman Pickens--known to most as "Work"--mindlessly holds together his disintegrating life: a failing law practice left to him when his father, Ezra, mysteriously disappeared, a distant wife who shares their loveless marriage, and an estranged sister who bore the brunt of their childhood trauma.

And then Ezra's body is discovered.

Set to inherit his father's fortune
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Graham He was caught in perilous flagrante with the babysitter, and after time left with the couple's daughter.

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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,082 ratings  ·  1,170 reviews

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Paula Kalin
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Hart fans
Recommended to Paula by: Barry award
I’m a big fan of John Hart. Goodreads friends turned me on to this award winning author with his books Redemption Road and Down River. I have now read 5 of his 6 books and rated them all between 4 and 5 stars.

The King of Lies is Hart’s debut. The book was nominated for the 2007 Barry, Anthony, Edgar, and Macavity awards. Set in North Carolina, the book is about Jackson “Work” Pickens, lawyer and son to Ezra the hot shot, big time lawyer in a small town. Ezra disappeared 2 years ago after the ac
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an absolutely thoroughly satisfying read. I’m currently in the excited phase when one discovers a new author. Combined with access to many libraries, I am in reader heaven. Good place to be, yes?!

Jackson ‘Work’ retraces his younger years, beginning at age 12 when he stumbles across a terrible situation he never should have at this tender age. This is the beginning of his life, in a way, and at current day standing it appears with increased clarity what an impact this incident has had on his
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
What he wanted was a loving home with a dog and a houseful of kids. His wife wants none of those things, money and prestige will do her just fine, thank you very much. As their marriage becomes increasingly strained, the wife carries on the charade, with a fake plastic smile pasted on her face and her country club airs. What we have here is a lawyer who won't stand up for himself, just going through the motions of life. His life is about to be turned upside down, and decisions are going to have ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Telling lies. Big ones. Little ones to cover up the big ones. It's like stepping into something that clings to the bottom of your shoes. And it leaves a trail of complications wherever we go.

Jackson Workman Pickens, also known as "Work", has deep, deep family issues. The body of his overbearing successful lawyer father has been found. And we already know who is prime and center as the go to suspect. Work has always lived in the shadow of his mammoth father, Ezra. After the death of his mother, W
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our truest self is often the person we allow no one else to see--who we are when we are alone. In the real world, we edit. We compromise and prevaricate.

It is hard to believe this was Hart’s debut novel. The writing has a melancholy, brooding quality, the story is compelling, but what makes this suspenseful story a standout is that it is also a character study and, in that, it is masterful. As a lover of mysteries who is often let down by the quality of the writing in the genre, John Hart is a l
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
The King of Lies just didn't do it for me. Normally I would just toss this in my ever-growing pile of unreviewed ‘meh’ books, but, since a couple people were curious what I thought/would think along the way, I'll offer my lame two cents. (Note: For actual review-reviews with summaries and stuff, I recommend you check out the superior commentary given by James Thane and/or Brandon).

I knew nothing about John Hart going into this, the audiobook was on sale for $4.95 as part of some audible ed
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is John Hart's debut novel, and my first time reading his work. I am impressed. I sympathized with the main character, nicknamed Work. He grew up with an awful father and a weak mother, and everything that happened to him during his childhood has culminated in this story. The night his mother died, his father disappeared. Eighteen months later, his father's body is discovered.

I loved the characterization and the mystery. Detective Mills was not very likable at first, but she was doing her j
KING OF LIES (Suspense-Jackson Workman Pickens-North Carolina-Cont) –NR
Hart, John – 1st book
Thomas Dunne Books, 2006, US Hardcover – ISBN: 031234161X
First Sentence: I’ve heard it said that jail stinks of despair.
*** Jackson Workman “Work” Pickens is a defense attorney, married to a beautiful woman, living in a big house. His father, Ezra, had built a powerful legal practice and a financial fortune and disappeared. Now Ezra’s body has turned up showing he dies of two gunshots on the day he disapp
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, fiction, y-u-do-dis
Ezra Pickens was an old, cold-hearted, womanizing son of a bitch and when his body is discovered with two entry wounds in the side of his skull, there’s no shortage of suspects. The problem for his son, respected lawyer Jackson “Work” Workman Pickens? The detective assigned to the case likes him for the murder and a hefty inheritance in his father’s will gives him one hell of a motive. The problem for the detective? Work didn't do it; he was wrapped in the arms of a woman he was seeing behind hi ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
This book should have been better. It's Pat Conroy doing noir with a little bit of Grisham mixed in. Part family drama, part murder mystery. The problem? The book just sucked. The first 100 pages show promise, but that promise quickly dissolves as the protagonist turns into a self-loathing, jerky moron and the plot becomes a disaster. We're supposed to feel sorry for the character (in the noir fashion, he's supposed to be a good man caught in a web of deceit), but I found myself rooting against ...more
James Thane
Apr 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: suspense
The King of Lies is the first book from John Hart, published three years before The Last Child, the book for which he won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Jackson Workman Pickens ("Work") is a North Carolina lawyer who's labored his entire life in the shadow of his domineering father, Ezra, also a lawyer. Work is also trapped in a marriage to a cold, scheming, social climbing witch. Work hates being a lawyer and can't stand his wife, but he's been living the lie that is his life for so long that ...more
This was John Hart's first novel. It was set in North Carolina, but almost completely lacked any sense of place. The narrator of the audiobook read in a "standard" American accent which was a disappointment. This is an overdrawn saga of a brutal father, Ezra Pickens, whose body is discovered 2 years after his disappearance. Suspects are his son, "Work" and his daughter, Jean. Progress is slow. In the middle of the book, it is revealed that one character is using a false name and possibly fake id ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great debut! I'm looking forward to Redemption Road.
Juliana Rose
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is proof that a mystery can be literature.

Hart's writing reminded me so much of Conroy in The Prince of Tides, which I loved. It's beautiful writing with an interesting storyline.

My one issue was that I often wanted to slap Work upside the head to knock some sense into him. It didn't interfere with my love for the book though.
Edward Gold
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Edward by: John Hart
I met John Hart a few months ago. He is friendly, intelligent, down-to-earth guy with a good personality. He convinced me to get this book, the first of his 2 currently published ones. He didn't force sell - he just talked about it.

It is a 1st-Person POV murder mystery.

At first, it took me a little while to get into his writing style because it was so different from what I normally read (SF&F). However, once I adapted, I flew through the book. I also thought it was neat that his main charact
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I kept seeing great reviews from GR friends and people that I follow that I had to check this author out. I can see why so many people like him. This was very hard to put down. I can also see why Pat Conroy gave him good reviews. There were similarities that I saw between this book and Prince of Tides (which is a phenomenal book if you haven't read it). Both deal with really dysfunctional families and have really gritty, intense, tough-to-read passages in them. This starts out kind of bleak and ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: suspense
The King of Lies has the potential for greatness--enough, certainly, to make me understand why Hart became a successful and popular author and to make me want to seek out one of his later books. It's a fairly involving mystery with some psychological depth and appealing Southern Gothic flair. But it's also painfully flowery in parts, and some of its depth results from throwing trauma at the wall like spaghetti to see what will stick. It's a first novel that ultimately feels too much like a first ...more
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
You know what's refreshing about John Hart? He's got three novels out now and there are no recurring characters. The standalone crime novel. What a concept.

I was really in the mood for a good legal thriller. I had read a very positive review a while back for his Down River, I think it was, and it had mentioned The King of Lies has his impressive debut.
So, naturally, I like to hit a guy's debut effort first.

The King of Lies is not without flaws. There were a few passages where I found some of the
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Nancy by: Judy
After about 80 pages I hadn't found a single like-able character. I checked for friend's Goodreads reviews and discovered that LJ had a very low opinion of this book. Knowing it wasn't just about to become really fascinating, I skipped to the end to see who-done-it. The last 50 pages seemed better than the first 80 so I gave it 2 stars. Over 200 pages went unread so take this review with a grain of salt. There could be good parts I missed.
Martin Clark
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it was first released in 2006, and it holds up like a champ all these years later. "Work" Pickens is a remarkable character, the details are all spot-on, the writing is flawless, the plot never misses a beat, and John Hart--an attorney himself--does a great job of conveying what it's like to be a small-town, ham-and-egg lawyer. This is darn near a perfect novel.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery-thriller

Unfortunately, I've added this book to the ever-growing list of disappointing debuts which have received, at least initially, glowing reviews. The plot centers around the 18 month disappearance and subsequent murder investigation, (once his body is found), of Ezra Pickens - a domineering father/husband and pillar of the community. His son, "Work" Pickens, our protagonist, after a week-long drunk and a conversation with an enigmatic homeless man, decides to take the bull b
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems that lately I've been drawn to lawyer/courtroom mysteries. This one by John Hart is an excellent example of this sub-genre. I have several of Hart's book on my TBR list, but I stumbled upon this on when I was looking for an audio book. The audio version is very good, and I am impressed with Harts writing. The plot is not a simple one, and has a number of characters, which can sometimes lead to confusion and/or poor development of some of them. Work, the main protagonist is a public defe ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
I read John Hart's second novel, Down River, first and was thrilled to find a new author with a phenomenal gift for storytelling, character development and an understanding of human relationships. John Hart writing

Now that I've read his debut novel, The King of Lies, I'm even more convinced of my initial impression. This book is great in all those apects; great mystery, great characters that span the height and depth of human relationships. I guessed on the "whodunit" about 3/4 the way through t
Tom Swift
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up a couple of John Hart books at Half Priced bookstore. The King of Lies is a story about a young lawyer in the south who's life is turned upside down when his partner/father is murdered.

I am a big Hart fan, next on the list is the Last Child.
Ten wasted years! Jackson, or Worker as he is commonly called, was in love with Vanessa from the time he was 12 or 13 years old. But he carries a guilt that he should have gotten off his chest years ago, and this guilt causes him to marry the woman his father picks for him and to just occasionally visit, in an intimate way, the woman he loves. How stupid! And not only that, he is really cruel with his words sometimes and he is often drunk! He is also a lawyer because his father wanted him to be. ...more
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who enjoy suspense
I picked this up on a lark and could not put it down! This novel is written in first person. The protagonist has spent his entire life living up to the expectations of a cruel and heartless father. In his quest to please him, he has become cruel and heartless himself. However, when his father is murdered, Work (yes, that's his name) begins to reexamine his lifestyle, his goals, his relationships with others. As he conducts an investigation into the death of his father, he evolves into a happier, ...more
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: legal-thriller
Don't you just love when you get all excited picking up a book, take it home, sit down to read and in no time you realize, you HAVE ALREADY read this story! HA HA ! I think the notice that there is a NEW John Hart novel coming out, "REDEMPTION ROAD", I went to check the shelve and saw this title, THE KING OF LIES and forgot I had read it. None the less, I read it again, fast, skimmed some since I knew what happened but still amazed at the story line and the beautiful writing. If you haven't read ...more
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
In this, John Hart's first book, the protagonist's father is found murdered and Work Pickens believes his troubled sister may have done the deed. Meanwhile, Pickens is juggling a collapsing law business, an unhappy marriage, and deep feelings for another woman. Almost as many twists as a Harlan Coben book, with the killer not revealed until the end. His newer books are better: Hart spent too much time setting up the suspense here.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set in a smaller North Carolina community, this 2006 courtroom mystery features criminal attorney Work Pickins. He serves as the narrator of the book. Pickins' father was also an attorney and worked his way up from a hardscrabble childhood to become a very wealthy corporate attorney. However, he never really outgrew his roots. He had an uncontrolled temper and beat his wife and children often. He was also responsible for the death of Work's mother. He disappeared one night and was never seen aga ...more
so i am really enjoying reading through all of john hart's books. he writes smart, layered stories set in north carolina where a crime or mystery is the center of the story. in this case the mystery is a complex family drama surrounding the death of the family patriarch. it is also about a journey of sorts as the main character comes to realize he's not living the life that he wants. the women characters were a bit thin but he improves their roles towards the end of the book.
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Won copies of this book for my book club 4 24 Feb 06, 2013 05:59AM  
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JOHN HART is the author of REDEMPTION ROAD (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press; May 3, 2016) and of four New York Times bestsellers, The King of Lies, Down River, The Last Child and Iron House. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, Hart has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagg ...more
“I'm sixty-nine years old, and I have no plans to run for reelection. Do you think I give a damn?” 3 likes
“Our questions, which began politely, were politely ignored.” 3 likes
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