A high-powered Manhattan defense attorney known for taking on the most despicable – and guilty – of clients finds himself on the defense when he appears to be set up as his former mistresses’ brutal murderer.
Compelling readers to turn the pages in a novel with a hateful anti-hero and few sympathetic characters is tricky, but A.F. Brady succeeds and captivates in the complex, intricately plotted and propulsive psychological thriller Once A Liar (Park Row Books). A.F. Brady, the pseudonym of a Manhattan psychotherapist, is also the author of the suspense thriller The Blind.
Once A Liar begins with the funeral of Peter Caine’s first wife, Juliette, who is the daughter of his deceased law partner, the ruthless Marcus Rhodes who taught Peter all he knows about defending monsters without remorse. As we meet Peter, he is hurrying his long-term girlfriend, Claire, into the church for the service as he repeatedly looks for social cues on how to fake the grieving ex-husband as well as a caring father. Jamie Caine, the teenage son of Peter and Juliette, is at the funeral and is clearly a stranger to his father.
Peter is introduced as a heartless sociopath, and at that point in the story, which is told in the first person with past and present story arcs presented in alternating chapters, he has become one. But we learn throughout the novel that Peter wasn’t always as ruthless. It’s Juliette’s father Marcus who’s responsible for that development.
Peter had been the top of his class at Columbia Law School and was subsequently working at a prestigious law firm when he meets Marcus and Juliette independently. Peter’s a social chameleon and to gain access to his targeted social circle, he fabricated a background equal to that of Tom Ripley in The Talented Mister Ripley. It’s the combination of Peter’s high intelligence, successful ruse and suspected ruthlessness that led Marcus to pursue him as a mentee. Juliette, who’s very different from her father and is ultimately the most sympathetic character in the novel, eventually discovers the ruse of Peter’s upbringing but keeps his secret.
Peter separates his heartless legal work from his loving marriage at the beginning of it but as his success and caseloads grow, the coldness leaks into the relationship. Juliette blames her father for ruining the already damaged Peter and the subsequent fallout, which leads to the end of her marriage and the estrangement of Peter from Jamie.
When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of Peter’s archenemy Manhattan District Attorney Harrison Doyle and Peter’s former lover, is murdered after the death of Juliette, blame points to Peter. Harrison is determined to discover who brutally killed his daughter and a witch-hunt ensues. As Peter tries to make sense of the mounting clues and defend himself, he’s forced to reckon with his lifelong deception and choices. Once A Liar ends brilliantly with an explosive revelation exposing a completely unforeseeable twist.
Once A Liar is now available for purchase.
About A.F. Brady
A.F. Brady is a born and raised New Yorker, a writer, and a NYS licensed psychotherapist. She’s been working in mental healthcare for many years.
She’s been writing her whole life, and The Blind was her first novel. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Brown University and an M.A. and Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She’s a die-hard Yankee fan, she loves Guns n Roses and Metallica, prefers Batman to Superman, and wants to spend a lot more time playing backgammon by the sea with a nice, cold cocktail.
A.F. Brady lives in New York with her husband and kids; one canine and two human.