Lie To Me, Dan is a novel written by Longrin Wetten, a passionate writer who effectively blends compelling storytelling with an exploration of serious issues and has a deep insight into human nature as evidenced in this, his first novel. The book is an entertaining work of literature which has a deeper purpose of exploring the effects of cultism on individual lives and the way it interconnects with our society, the relationship between families, friends and relatives and the mystery of falling in love while navigating our convoluted and sometimes complicated tertiary education system.
The novel is centered around two major characters: Dan whose moniker as D-man overshadows his real name, and Marylyn – two young undergraduates who in their different ways are both focused and driven individuals. Through an almost investigative storytelling, it unveils how the events of a few days changed their lives forever.
The novel starts out with a prologue foreshadowing the events that would transpire towards the end of the book. In it, we are introduced to a character we would not come in contact with until much later, and the ruthless nature of his brand of justice is highlighted. At the first look it seems disjointed from the story, but it comes into sharp context when it falls in with the rest of the book.
Marylyn, a beautiful and young but single-minded psychology student, has eyes only for her books and the bright future she knows is before her. She navigates the school system with a focused drive and an aloofness from its less academic pursuits until she runs into a fellow student who leaves a lasting impression on her. Granted, that impression was not favourable, and Marylyn and Dan had a truly terrible first experience together, but it was an impression all the same. She employed every weapon in her arsenal to keep D-man at arm’s length, but she underestimated his tenacity.
She left an impression on Dan too. A very intense young man with a questionable reputation and great influence on the campus, Dan was handsome, popular and had seemingly endless resources. He was renowned for his numerous temporary dalliances with the ladies on campus and the ease with which he discharged them after he was done with them. His fascination with the beautiful and seemingly unavailable Marylyn started out as a simple potential conquest and quickly morphed into an obsession that started a chain reaction, roping in erstwhile innocent bystanders into the unfolding drama.
The first of these was Yvonne, a voluptuous and much desired student with a violent boyfriend who was starting to feel stifled in her relationship and saw a liaison with D-man as her way out. Over several unfruitful encounters with her, Dan gets on the radar of the cultists he worked so hard in his university career to avoid and a series of unfortunate events are unleashed on both sides.
Esse was an older friend and mentor of sorts to Marylyn, and an unfortunate coincidence made her a prime target for blackmail and an unwilling gateway into Marylyn’s life. Her involvement with both Dan and Marylyn swung like a pendulum between friend and foe in a convoluted relationship that affected the lives of nearly everyone in the book.
Looming large through the story – though mostly absent in person – is Marylyn’s father, a man she looks up to and loves with a fearless devotion. It is clear that she owes her focused and confident nature to his mentoring, and he is a model of how raising children to think like adults shapes them into strong and resilient individuals. His overwhelming presence in her life manifests itself in every well thought-out and conscientious decision she makes and how she handles herself through the challenges that come her way. The breakdown of this deliberate reasoning process is an indication of how no one can really fall in love while holding on to logic.
The story is woven together like a tapestry, with every little incident being a part of a larger, hitherto unforeseen event. The author writes suspense-fully in a way that draws the reader in but does not isolate from the story, and the end of every chapter leaves you in breathless anticipation for the next.
I particularly enjoyed the titles of the chapters: a way of foreshadowing the events to follow without giving much away in the process. With codes, mysterious rogue government agents, cryptic messages, betrayal, surprising twists, three-dimensional characters who make very human mistakes and a look into the increasingly younger population of our university campuses, the novel is an engaging read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Lie To Me, Dan wraps up in a way that is both complete and open-ended, leaving the reader hungry for more. Since this is the first of a trilogy, it left my appetite temporarily sated but I am looking forward to what the next chapter of Dan and Marylyn’s lives will bring.