After reading (and re-reading) Lasdun's first novel "The Horned Man", I was eager to see what he would do in his next outing. The astonishing "Seven Lies" has exceeded my expectations. It is the most complete and powerful dramatization of the corruption of an individual human being that I have ever encountered, in fiction or non-fiction. The process of this corruption -- in a world where lies are rewarded and truth must be hidden at all costs -- is the novel's central concern. The plot, with its satisfying twists and intricacies, I will leave for you the pleasure of discovering on your own.
The action takes place in New York and East Berlin shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Though beautifully rendered, the Berlin that Lasdun creates transcends the specific place and becomes a state of mind -- the poisoning of narrator Stefan Vogel's soul could be taking place anywhere, and probably is.
The great, added pleasure of reading Lasdun is his extraordinary and unique mastery of the English language. His writing has the effect of a camera in close up, only in this case the camera illuminates thought and emotion as well as life's surface. When Lasdun zeroes in on a detail, he seems to stop time. There is no one today, to my knowledge, who writes with quite this subtlety and command.