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  1. The Liar's Dictionary brings together two parallel narratives. Mallory is a young gay woman, working as the sole assistant to David Swansby, proprieter of Swansby's (famously incomplete) Dictionary. They are creating a digitised version of the dictionary, updating the definitions for the 21st Century but refusing to add or subtract from the lexicon. They know they can't compete with the OED, Chambers or Collins so they celebrate Swansby's quirkiness. And Mallory works in the same grand building overlooking St James's Park in which the Dictionary was born in the 19th Century. The second narrative follows Winceworth, a clerk on the first staff of the dictionary, researching and sorting definitions. Winceworth pretends to have a lisp and seems to be in awe of some of his more dashing colleagues. Oh, and Mallory is trying to identify and expunge the words that Winceworth made up all those years ago and smuggled into the catalogue alongside the genuine words. And someone is threatening to blow up Swansby House. This seems like a rather flimsy vehicle for parading a long list of puns, obscure definitions and other heavily-worn research. The characters never feel real; it is unclear initially that the two narratives are separated in time; and the plot is chock-full of holes and coincidences while the characters do things that seem to have no motive or rational explanation. Example: Winceworth sees a girl he met at a party the previous night (the fiancee of a colleague) wresting a pelican in the park. Winceworth decides to join in, ends up drenched in pelican blood, runs into the very work colleague whose fiancee he has assisted in a cafe when they should both have been at work. The colleague decides to prank Winceworth by sending him on a fool's errand to Barking to meet an unknown person at an unspecified place and time to discuss the etymology of Barking - whereupon he is caught up in an explosion. The parallels between the stories feel contrived - the explosions; the partners of Swansby staff showing up uninvited to Swansby House and wandering around floors that are off limits; the precarious financial position of the dictionary... This felt like a really long read - it was so easy to get distracted by more interesting things - walking the dog, washing up, doing on-line jigsaw puzzles, etc. It's not that it was particularly bad, it's just it didn't have anything to really engage this reader. **000
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