Liz Connor’s life is going well. She just bought an adventure tour company in Santa Fe. She’s been appointed to Santa Fe’s City Council. She and her mother are reconciling after 12 years. No surprise that Liz’s life is about to go to hell in a hand basket.
Just when Liz and her family plan to celebrate, her mother, Betty Connor, is arrested by the FBI. Betty is accused of first-degree murder in Boston over 30 years ago. Based on fingerprints, the FBI believes her to be fugitive Sarah Jane Maynard, on the run after killing two guards during the robbery of a Federal Reserve armored vehicle. Sarah Jane and her three accomplices were members of a violent anti-war group protesting Vietnam.
Liz is certain it’s a case of mistaken identity. She’s confident that her mother couldn’t possibly be Sarah Jane or a murderer. Her family is a typical average family. Her father is a school principal. Her sister is a stay-at-home wife with two kids. Betty is a homemaker who supports many local causes. She’s never been interested in political matters. Everyone is confused why Betty doesn’t speak in her defense - to the feds, to her lawyer or, more importantly, to her family.
Two men show up each offering help to Liz and her family. One is Michael Gallagher, a lawyer for Betty’s cousin. When he offers any money the Connors’ need for Betty’s defense, they turn it down not sure of the cousin’s motives. After all who offers money to relatives they’ve never met without strings? The second man is Caleb Adams, ex-cop now part time private investigator. Caleb offers to help Liz find the truth. He claims his motive is to write a book about the robbery.
Soon after Betty’s arrest, someone sets fire to Liz’s house, tries to kidnap her niece, and attacks Liz. Liz agrees to take Caleb’s help. Not only because of the attacks but also because he worked on the cold case when he was a Boston cop. She figures she can use his background of the police file. Caleb, of course, has his own secret. His father was one of the two guards murdered. Caleb plans to use Liz to ensure Betty is convicted and punished for the crime.
Right from beginning, the action kicks off. Whenever it seemed like Liz and Caleb are just starting to move past one attack there is another event coming. The mystery is the interesting part. How did the four fugitives get away with robbery and murder? What happened to the two million dollars stolen?
The characters are ones we’ve seen many times. She’s an independent woman who finds herself trusting him and relying on him since he makes her feel safe. He’s a tortured hero with a tragic past. Neither is deep or developed enough to inspire the reader into caring much, but they fit the story well. They are just vehicles to keep the action flowing
The main weakness in Tangle of Lies is that Liz and Caleb’s relationship is a little too predictable. It is typical of stories with extreme circumstances. First, they are attracted to each other; second, there’s some conflict (usually a secret);why they can’t be together; third, naturally, they find it harder and harder to resist each other. Soon, the conflict comes to a head and threatens their relationship and you can guess the ending.
“Romantic suspense” is not the most accurate description of Tangle of Lies since it’s never very suspenseful. Luckily, the action is enough to keep the reader entertained. While the romance is not unique or unusual, Tangle of Lies is an acceptable read.