Book Review: Liars’ Legacy by Taylor Stevens
By Allison BrennanDecember 19, 2019
This time last year I reviewed Liars’ Paradox by Taylor Stevens and said, “It’s fun, violent, fast-paced, and original. The comment, “I couldn’t put the book down,” is somewhat trite because everyone says that about a good thriller. Except, I literally could not put the book down until I read every page.”
Now, multiply that praise for Liars’ Legacy, the second book in the Jack and Jill thriller series by the talented Stevens. Because the second book is even better than the first. High praise from me because I’m not a particular fan of international spy thrillers, but this book has an added punch—the writing? the characters? the multi-layered plot?—that kept me riveted.
I would argue you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy the second, but you’ll understand the characters much better if you get a taste of them in book one. Still, Stevens does a good job of feeding you just enough information about what happened in book one that led them into the situation of book two.
What does Legacy do better than Paradox? While both books are strong thrillers, book two has higher stakes and far more complex and nuanced main characters. We met Jack and Jill in book one. . . but now I really feel like I know them.
Meet Jack and Jill (not their real names)—twins, born to a CIA operative with (possibly) the Russian spy was cultivating. Fast-forward 26 years. The twins have been raised in an unorthodox manner. They know how to run, hide, kill, and more. They have broken away from their borderline psychotic mother Clare and are trying to live peacefully, but with their past, they clearly can not. Jack is methodical, analytical, intensely smart. He will only kill if he is forced to. Jill is wild, ruthless, extremely skilled. She doesn’t think twice about killing anyone in her way. They are both lethal, they love each other. . . and they wholly distrust each other.
Throw in assassin Christopher Holden who is either out to kill them or out to save them:
There were five, maybe six players in motion now.
— The twins tracking their father.
— The Russians tracking the twins.
— The Americans tracking the twins.
— Himself tracking the twins.
— The Americans who had been tracking him.
Clare, the mother was still a question mark.
He hadn’t seen signs of her, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t around.
And now, down at the table, the wrong man had shown up at the right time and right place. Not Dmitry. Not the father. Something else.
Stevens actually made me like an assassin and question the lines between right and wrong. Holden is not akin to a “prostitute with a heart of gold.” He’s clearly ruthless, remorseless, and lethal. But. . . extremely compelling.
Legacy is a wild ride, but Stevens marks the chapter headings with the point-of-view character and the location, which helps ground the reader into the story. I liked the addition of super-intelligent American agent Kara Novak, who provided a moral compass for the story. Seeing the events and characters through her eyes provided another layer of suspense.
The reason I particularly enjoyed Legacy was that Jack, Jill, and Holden felt more real to me than they did in book one. Don’t get me wrong, Paradox was fun, but the characters were angrier and driven more by the events in that book than they were driving the train. In Legacy, the characters were conflicted, they showed more depth and emotion, and you could feel the affection between the siblings, even when they were trying to sabotage each other (for good reason.)
She’d had one job, just one simple job.
All she’d needed to do after was lay low and board this flight.
That she was missing now said either she’d been grabbed or this was her deliberately taunting him. The first worried him a whole lot less than the second.
God help any team that tried to grab her.
God help him if they hadn’t.
She was the most capable person he knew, at the top of the game when the game was in play—so long as the game was in play—but lulls and in-between silences led to situations like this, and she’d had five hours.
He glanced at the time.
Two minutes past scheduled departure and the doors were still open.……
…… She shoved her bag down by her feet and said, “Hey.”
Hey, as if she was right on time, playing this according to plan.
Hey, as if she hadn’t sought out a tight connecting flight, become part of the group rushing to make the next leg, and nearly missed this one in the process.
Hey, because hers had been a tri-purposed strategy that kept her invisible to watching eyes while tormenting him to the last minute while leaving him no way to confront her about the second, because the first was in itself perfect.
He said, “You got tagged?”
She searched for the seat-belt ends. “Just lost track of time.”
The lie exploded inside his head.
If she’d truly lost track of time, she’d have never admitted to it. And if there’d been a legitimate reason for the delay, it’d have cost her nothing to give it. She lied when there was no need to lie, lied because she knew he’d know it as a lie.
This was the game she played.
This was how she maintained control.
He leaned back, shut his eyes, and blocked her out.
Voice low, she said, “Those weren’t Russians, John.”
Liars’ Legacy is pure escapist thrills, one page after the other. I liked Stevens Vanessa Michael Munroe series, but I think I like Jack and Jill even more.
Read this book. You won’t regret it.