I just completed my second reading of Dangerous People by Lesley Hayes. The first was a rather breathless rush to see what would happen next. A page turner for sure, although during that quickening of pace it was all too evident that the characters, their different agendas and the dynamics that existed between them were rich and complex. The second read was savoring what I had neglected to fully appreciate the first time as each individual revealed yet deeper layers of personality as their interactions took them to greater understanding of themselves and the person with whom they shared ~ or didn’t ~ their relationship. It was this sharing and withholding of secrets, while attempting to maintain the status quo and semblance of love and friendship in its diverse ways, that makes this book so compelling. Lesley Hayes’ understanding of people and the psychological vicissitudes that motivate them is what’s so absorbing here. Throughout my reading I was constantly stopped to recognize just how well she describes the convolutions and thinking of such different personalities. It is amazing that her insight is so precise and conveyed so accurately in her writing. Her characters are fine drawn; often pathetic, often admired, often commiserated with, most often struggling and often disliked but more often revealing yet different aspects of human nature. It is this that makes her novels so exceptional and what makes the reader long for the next one to discover what new depths of revealing personalities she will introduce us to. So often in real life we get only to see the superficial shell of what another wants us to see leaving us with the lurking suspicion there is more that needs to be revealed to really know who that person is. In Dangerous People, we are introduced to similar surface traits that very quickly unravel deeper levels of being, often unpleasant, often not, but always interesting as they expose characteristics and attributes that when in contact with another ignites emotions and thoughts that had been carefully protected from discovery. It is the discovery of Dangerous People concealing themselves from themselves and others such that when their masquerades become unraveled the resulting chaos of exposure sparks not only conflict and rejection but often love and acceptance that would have otherwise remained unexamined had the facade remained in place. Dangerous People is a reminder that the unexamined life is not worth living. Lesley Hayes observes this in depth with each of her characters then shares her discovery to make this novel an excellent read.