Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue. Best 100 Mysteries of All Time

Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn BlueBarbara Paul–1980-OOP

Imagine you could tell if one someone was lying? And I’m not talking about body language like  so called experts claim on talk shows, but concrete evidence that exposes anyone who likes to fib? That’s the premise of this tongue in cheek novel by Barbara Paul, a well seasoned author with many other great titles in her body of work. I for one, would just love to have such an ability. If there’s one thing I despise, it’s lying. I have a real problem with it, abnormally so, I think, lol. I’d rather be told an unpleasant truth, than a sugar coated lie.

Shelby Kent is a human lie detector. He talents are used by various police departments in aiding their investigations. Watching an interrogation through the one way glass, Shelby can differentiate between answers told truthfully, and those that are not. How? A red cloud appears around the individual lying. She discovered this little personality quirk back as a kid, when she started to see a pink cloud surround her father. Since then, she’s been able to call a person on their untruths which unnerves some, especially her husband. He’ll lie to her, just to get her reaction, and when she doesn’t react he finds ways to start a fight. He wants her to give up the police consulting. Shelby isn’t obliging.

“I’m the only person in the world who can read that particular aura people give off when they’re lying. I should give up my one claim to uniqueness just because Eric Kent can’t handle it? It’s a valuable gift-I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t work for it. I was born with it. But I’m not going to let Eric bully me into giving it up.”

Obviously, there’s tension on the home front, but the real problems lie ahead when Shelby helps a UN inquiry into  an international plot involving useless weapons.

And worse, she’s added a new color to her abilities. Blue. After extensive testing at a facility created just to study Shelby,  blue is found to be indicative of  anxiety, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.

Shelby’s sister, her brother in law, and a international law enforcement agent, all become involved in Shelby’s auras, to everyone’s endangerment.

Written in 1980, we were still worried about Communist China, ha, ha, and Soviet power. Not to mention South American uprisings. All problems that at the time seemed serious enough, but today, are almost looked upon with nostalgia. The enemy was clearly defined then, and makes this story a easy good vs. evil tale, told with panache, humor, and sly undertones. No country, including the USA, gets a pass in the tale.

I wish more stories had been written starring Shelby and her cohorts. I imagine there are zillions of crimes committed that she would be have been invaluable in routing out the guilty parties. I can think of two off the bat–O.J and um, what is that girl’s name? Casey something?

My copy was shipped to Ms. Paul for an inscription, in the 90s. She wrote a wonderful piece:

“To Diane Plumley

This whole book is a lie, don’t believe one word of it! It even admits to being—gasp—fiction!

Don’t turn blue!

Barbara Paul BN*

*Benevolent Tyrant”

An extra thrilling bonus about my particular copy, it was once owned by the great crime fiction writer, critic, and book collector, Dorothy B. Hughes, and SHE signed every book she owned!

Don’t forget the Best 100 Mysteries of All Time list!