The Day of the Lie

by William Brodrick
Overlook Press, March 2017, $27.95

The Day of the Lie is William Brodrick’s fourth novel featuring monk and former lawyer Father Anselm. This multilayered whodunit is less thriller than philosophical study of survival and betrayal in Eastern Europe during communist rule, and, after its collapse, a sly and cynical sort of redemption.

Father Anselm is approached by his oldest friend, John Fielding, with a plea for help. While John was a newspaper correspondent in Warsaw in the early 1980s he arranged an interview with a dissident known as The Shoemaker. His contact, a woman named Roza Mojeska, was arrested before the meeting could take place and sent to prison where she was told the identity of the person who betrayed her—a secret she has kept for more than 20 years for reasons never fully disclosed to the reader. But as the times have changed, the new government is looking for reparations from the old and they want Roza to tell everything. But Roza wants the informer to admit the betrayal, rather than pointing her finger.

The Day of the Lie is an appealing and accurate study of life in the totalitarian Communist states of Eastern Europe during the cold war. A tricky plot, confusing at times, and snail-like pacing is offset by the fascination of the behavior required to survive in an environment of paranoia, fear, betrayal, and the raw struggles of survival—protecting one’s own family at the expense of friends. Less thriller than treatise, it is ideal for those fascinated by Communism, Cold War history, and the philosophy of ethics, but may prove burdensome for those looking for lighter, more rip-roaring fare.

Ben Boulden
Teri Duerr
March 2017
Overlook Press