Friday 4 August 2023


Lemons Never Lie is a book that just keeps on giving, unless you happen to be the protagonist (Alan Grofied), in which case it keeps on giving and taking and giving and taking and so on. 

Grofield is invited to LA to talk about a job. At the airport, while awaiting his bags, he plays the slot machines. When he draws three lemons it nets him fourteen nickels. This he sees as a sign of bad luck and it's a hex that's going to follow him right until the end of the novel. 

He bumps into an old colleague, Dan, and they attend a meeting of criminals only to discover that the organiser, Andrew Myers, is a flawed human being who has no respect for human life and has a reckless approach to heists. Grofield and Dan leave, but Myers stamps his mark on both of them (literally and figuratively) before they leave town with each of them carries a grudge for Myers that isn't going to leave them be.

There's a little bit of ping pong after that, where the plot works its way through various sections of the story. 

Grofield's main incentive for criminal activity is the running of an old theatre in Mead Grove, Indiana. It's where he lives with his wife, and when they're not putting on shows they are living on stage. They're frugal and motivated and, above all, very happy. It's the kind of idyllic lifestyle many a reader might wish for. Unfortunately, with the Myers job gone and no opportunities on the horizon, Grofield is getting desperate. 

When Dan shows up again and a call comes in for a safe robbery in a superstore, things begin to look up. And then they look down again. Grofield sure was right about those lemons.

After being kicked when he was up a few too many times, Grofield is forced into a position where he needs to take revenge. Myers is no longer just a thorn in his side but a crown of them, with each spike jabbing directly into his heart. By the end of the book, only one of them will still be standing.  

Though there are a few cracks in the plot in terms of it shooting off in many directions and in certain elements that feel on the unlikely side, there's plenty of paper in the form of the quality of the writing and the energy of the action to cover them over. And there's lots to love. The negotiation when buying a vehicle for a job is perfect. The purchasing of guns. The tension of the heist. Grofield's cool determination and dogged pursuit of his nemesis. Best of all, the wonderful set up Grofield has with his wife and the extra dimensions his love of the theatre bring to his character really shine. 

A neat book in a tidy-sized pocket edition that will have you sitting on whatever seat it is you're sitting on wherever you happen to be.