Up Close: Rick Mofina
Lies Laid Bare
By Rick Pullen
In a horror flick you can always count on the protagonist doing the wrong thing—and without exception, getting into even deeper trouble. It’s become such a cliché that a recent television commercial features young people deciding to hide from their nemesis behind chainsaws hanging from the rafters in a dilapidated garage, rather than escaping in the waiting convertible.
So when Canadian author Rick Mofina uses this device in his newest thriller for one of his main characters, Jeff Taylor, your first reaction is “Ech! Time to put it down and find another book.”
As you read further, you discover Mofina uses his character’s cliché demeanor in his new thriller THE LYING HOUSE as a device to illuminate Jeff’s emotionally wrought, but very grounded wife, Lisa. If you’ve ever been married or in a long-term relationship, you might just recognize yourself in their marital conflict as it grows due to forces outside their relationship.
THE LYING HOUSE is a story of a young couple moving to Florida upscale suburbia from Cleveland to accommodate Jeff’s job promotion at an advertising agency. Just after they arrive, a burglar breaks into their new home, which they can barely afford, and grabs Lisa, almost kidnapping her. Her emotional rollercoaster at being accosted and Jeff’s response cause Lisa to question their recent move and even her marriage.
As she struggles with the outsider invading her innermost emotional safe space, she remains the adult in the room while Jeff, haunted by his own demons, tends to make every ill-advised move possible. The conflict between the two serves as the centerpiece and jumping-off point for this fast-paced thriller.
In a vacuum, Jeff’s behavior may be considered off-putting, even frustrating. He always seems to make excuses for why he won’t do the right thing. You want to scream, as his wife tries, “Just come clean!” But he fears he will jeopardize his and Lisa’s future as well as his career, which has just taken off. And when confronted by Lisa—the progeny of 1960s hippies—Mofina’s story becomes oh so believable.
“People have two faces,” Mofina says. “She wants to believe him but brick by brick there is this wall that is being built.”
Now you have the ingredients for a classic domestic psychological thriller.
Mofina, a former journalist, knows how to move a plot along after writing four series and several standalone novels, and receiving numerous kudos for his work.
Library Journal once called him “one of the best thriller writers in the business.” I can see why.
Mofina initially wrote novels using journalists as his protagonists, but in recent years—at the urging of his publisher—he has concentrated on domestic psychological thrillers.
THE LYING HOUSE. his sixth in the genre, is “a good story to scare people in suburbia,” he says.
There was even a serial killer discovered in his Ottawa neighborhood that inspired his novel. “I drew on realistic events. I just wanted to give readers a good scare.”
Mofina is nothing if not a prolific writer. This is his 24th novel since his first book appeared in 2000. And most of those were written while he was a full-time journalist. But he saw the handwriting on the decaying wall of the newspaper business, so he shifted course and used his writing talents working for the Canadian government for a few years before deciding two years ago to quit and write full time.
Today, he spends his mornings and early afternoons working on his next manuscript and then escapes his home for a long walk to get his daily exercise and clear his head. It’s time to noodle ideas about the future serial killer attending elementary school down the block, or the next twisted story idea hidden behind the neighbor’s bushes.
Domestic life has never been so scary as it is in Mofina’s mind.
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