WHY MEN LIE by Linden MacIntyre (Random House), 368 pages, $32 cloth. Rating: NNN
Giller winner Linden MacIntyre's new book, the third in his Cape Breton trilogy, is less about why men lie than about the fact that they do - all the time.
At least they do to Effie MacAskill Gillis, sister of the priest protagonist of MacIntyre's The Bishop's Man. A Celtic studies prof living in T.O., she draws liars into her life like bees to honey.
There's her philandering ex, Sextus, and her maybe terrorist-sympathizer deceased husband, Conor, to say nothing of the relatives and old friends not exactly forthcoming about her family's past.
She is, however, comfortably settled and single. When the journalist J.C., an old pal from Cape Breton, surfaces and draws her into a full-on affair, she realizes that yet another guy is not telling her everything.
MacIntyre has a terrific grasp of dialogue and deploys it skilfully via his often single-malt-fuelled characters. And he cannily builds tension and mystery.
But there's way too much going on. With its flashbacks and shifting locations, Why Men Lie can't be read in intermittent spurts or you'll lose track.
Some storylines - intended to enhance the sense of J.C.'s unreliability - are really unnecessary. Stalker guy Paul, for example, takes the narrative way over the top.
You may be left frustrated by MacIntyre's decision to leave most of the questions - including the one in the title - unanswered. But I love that he doesn't tie up all the threads he's let unravel.
Life is not tidy.
MacIntyre reads from his book at the Torn From The Pages event at Hugh's Room, Saturday (April 28). See listing.