by Adaugo Okoli
If you would enjoy a refreshing romantic thriller steered by a pair of young adult protagonists, take your chances and settle in with Lie to Me, Dan. The novel is a contemporary romantic action-thriller written by Longrin Wetten. From the first page, he captures the reader’s attention with a wounded protagonist on the run, instantly leaving one curious about how the character came to be in that position. This pace is kept up throughout most of the novel.
The plot of the novel is partly centred around a bright young girl, Marylyn – an undergraduate student of psychology who spends most of her spare time on campus either attending club meetings or studying at the library. By nurture, she lives a precariously cautious life almost to the point of prudishness. That is, until she bumps into the uncanny Daniel Kazeh, popular campus ‘ladies-man’ who develops a persistent interest in Marylyn. As expected, his attentions unsettle Marylyn, inciting her naïve temper and becoming a source of her constant worry. Regardless Dan; or D-man as he has been famously nick-named for his prowess with women, remains relentless in courting her attention.
Without any warning on the night of her eighteenth birthday, Marylyn’s stable life gets thrown into upheaval, with D-man at the centre of affairs. After nearly paying for their acquaintance with her life, Marylyn eventually defies her protective father and leaves on a mission to save D-man whom she has become fond of and whom she believes might be in danger. This sudden stint of adventurousness sees her teaming up with unlikely allies to first uncover the mystery of Dan’s disappearance, and later to save him and themselves from a criminal student fraternity led by Nelson aka Nail-son, the maniacal gang leader.
Aside from the obvious themes of romance and action, the story captures Marylyn’s journey of personal discovery as she turns eighteen and explores her newly acquired moral independence. We witness the struggles of her father, a loving but wise man who is forced to abandon his over-cautious parental instincts and guide Marylyn instead, towards finding and becoming her genuine self.
For his first published work, Longrin Wetten accomplishes brilliantly the primary aim of most published novels; to take readers on some sort of journey throughout the duration of its pages. By using a familiar background and infusing it with new twists, Lie to Me, Dan manages to keep the reader emotionally involved in the plot as it unfolds. A particularly interesting feature of the novel is its cryptically titled chapters whose literal meanings are revealed within the chapter’s story, keeping the reader anxious at each turn to find out the underlying, titular moment buried within each chapter. The chapters themselves were appropriate lengths to maintain and satisfy the reader’s attention.
The novel’s title also comes into play; entangled in a plot twist just as the story is coming to an apparent resolution. A confession is made by Dan, as he lies in his hospital bed and says to Marylyn “I’ll never lie to you.” Marylyn stunned by the admission she has just witnessed, demands “Go ahead and Lie to me, Lie to me, Dan”, insisting “I’ll believe anything you say but this.”
The characters in the book were nicely developed, immersing the reader easily into the story with simple, flowing conversation. Apart from some scenes where the quick moving tempo of the story obstructed realistic dialogue, the style was generally smooth and well-suited. Any clumsiness was made up for by the excellently developed plot. No particular instant in the book was quite as vivid and fixating, for me, as in the crash scene leading to the climax, which involved Mr. Taofeeq in an excellently captured moment.
Lie to Me, Dan is an emotional adventure I would recommend for readers of all ages. It is full of gripping moments, unexpected turns, a healthy dose of humour and witty references. At the end of the novel, the reader is left to decipher a code similar to the one Dan had sent to Marylyn just before his disappearance early in the story. This final puzzle to the reader is preceded by the injunction: If you really must know that which is to come, then pick up your phone and crack this code.
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