After graduated from London University in art history, Adam Woods travels to Venice to take a post as an English tutor. Unfortunately, Mr. Gondolini’s son gets the maid’s daughter pregnant. Due to this reason, Mr. Gondolini has sent his son to New York to avoid any repercussions, thus causing Adam unemployed. However, with the idea by Mrs. Gondolini to work as a personal assistant, Adam applied for the job and work as a personal assistant to a reclusive writer Gordon Crace.
Crace wrote one novel in 1967 entitled ‘The Debating Society’ which was a huge bestseller and also the only novel since then. Adam works very hard cleaning up the abandoned house and also cooking simple meals for Crace. Besides that, Crace likes to talk to him about arts and his collections in the house. Despite of Crace’s eccentric behaviour such as asking him to do the grocery in a limited time as Crace cannot bear to be left alone, Adam still perform his tasks diligently and work according to Crace’s requirements. As the time passes by, Adam realised that his novel is not going well and decided to write a biography of Crace since this is a good opportunity for him to know more about the older man. He has access to all the older man’s letters and learns that there is another writer has the same interest to write a biography of Crace. As for another letter, he soon found out it is related to a young man who lived with Crace committed suicide soon after publication.
Adam lies to Crace by using grandmother’s funeral as an excuse so he can visit England to dig out more details of the older man’s past. His visit to England enables him to investigate how far has the writer knows about Crace in preparing to write the biography. Besides that, he also get to know that the young man that committed suicide named Christopher Davidson looks alike to him and has an unexpected relationship with Crace. Christopher’s ex-classmate which is also Crace’s ex-student told Adam that his old friends used to participate in debating society were abused by Crace and causes them committed suicide few years ago. Crace’s homosexuality stories causing tension to Adam to return to Venice and live with Crace.
The story ends with a gunshot between Crace and Adam when Adam tries to search for the manuscript “The Music Teacher”. Crace knew Adam’s motives all these time and created a puzzle before he died that leads Adam to search for the manuscript in different places in the house. In the end, Adam has to searched for the manuscript from Crace’s body as Crace purposely planned it in such way so that Adam has to touch his body after he died. What Adam found from the body is not the manuscript but it’s a book called “The Lying Tongue” and the main character was called Adam. The story has been sent to the publisher before Crace died.
It has been quite some time that I encountered such a book which is difficult to stop reading it. This is a psychological thriller novel. Although this is Andrew Wilson’s debut novel but the story is well-written and able to create an exceptional thriller to the readers.