“The Dissemblers” may not have attractive characters, but the writing certainly measures up. Characters’ motivations always ring true, and Ms. Campbell handles the New Mexico landscape and moods beautifully – her descriptions evoke New Mexico’s unique brand of emptiness very accurately. There could be no more appropriate setting for the dogged emptiness of Ivy’s soul. I say dogged emptiness, but the conclusion of the story includes Ivy’s first, tentative steps to resuming her passion for painting. But our author tempers even this quiet uptick in Ivy’s life: she realizes how easily she can lie to the authorities about the conspiracy.
Liza Campbell has produced an interesting study in flawed character and shady ambition. She paces the story perfectly as we follow Ivy’s anguished descent and subsequent rise. Again, the stark depictions of New Mexico’s broad-brush vacancy agree in tone and texture with the emptiness of the characters. Of all the things I admired about this novel, I rank this parallel as the topmost.