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A compulsive, suspenseful, bravely observed contemporary novel about a creative writing school tutor whose relationship with a student goes tragically wrong - from the bestselling author of LONGBOURN

A dark, thrilling new novel from the bestselling author of LONGBOURN: a work of riveting suspense that grapples with how to live as a woman in the world - or in the pages of a book - when the stakes are dangerously high.

What if you realised the subject your student is studying is you?

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget. But despite the distractions of a new life and single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle. To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative writing group.

When a troubled student starts sending in chapters from his novel that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognises herself as a main character in his book - and he has written her a horrible fate.

Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it's too late?

At once a breathless cat-and-mouse game and a layered exploration of violence against women in art, The Body Lies is an essential book for our times.


Jo Baker’s THE BODY LIES is gripping and strange in the best possible way: the perfect marriage of risky literary fiction and full-on thriller.

MARIA SEMPLE, bestselling author of Where d'ya go, Bernadette?

This page-turning thrilller has a sympathetic and utterly believable heroine, but it's also an examination of how women's bodies are treated, in life and in fiction.

The Bookseller

Powerful and moving, I read The Body Lies in one sitting. As a thriller, it grips and shocks: as a portrayal of the way women move through the world, and the way men see them, it has never been more timely. Absolutely stunning.

ERIN KELLY, bestselling author of HE SAID/SHE SAID

A story of female response to male threat, boosted by questions of literary expression... Baker's fans will enjoy the crisp descriptive writing and insightful nuances

Kirkus Reviews

All too plausible, Baker’s powerful tale is at times heart-rending to read—and impossible to put down.

Publishers Weekly

The beauty and structure of Baker's language, the way she decided to tell this particular story, the suspense... It has stayed in my head for days.

Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, NC

Powerful read

Prima Magazine

The Body Lies is so much more than just a thriller. It's a literary analysis on the way that our social environment shapes creative writing and individual voice; a heartfelt depiction of assault-related trauma and the associated anxiety and depression; an incisive commentary on the constant, subtle ways that women's consent is invalidated. And on top of all that it's a riveting, compelling murder mystery, intensely readable.

Genevieve Taylor, Boulder Bookstore, CO

Jo Baker makes a huge departure in style with this menacing story of a student and teacher. A young college instructor begins to see entirely too much of herself in the work of one of her writing students who claims to only "write the truth." As the threats become more overt, the stakes increase until it becomes unclear who will triumph in this game of cat and mouse. This nail biter of a novel will leave readers deeply unsettled and checking the door locks.”

Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, Minnesota

A literary exploration of consent, entitlement and how narratives can be bent, misappropriated and wrested back. I loved it.


This superior thriller looks at how novels represent violence through the story of a creative writing teacher who finds herself trapped between the borders of life and fiction after recognising herself in a story written by one of her students


A shrewdly layered thriller that unflinchingly tackles the quagmire of pressure, judgement and ever-present danger women navigate in their daily lives

Herald Scotland

Gripping ... with lots to say about sexual politics

Good Housekeeping

Packs a powerful punch on every page

Red Magazine

Build-up of tension is EXCELLENT

Daily Mail

Baker’s powerful tale is at times heart-rending to read—and impossible to put down.

Publishers' Weekly US

Beyond the twists and turns of the thriller, The Body Lies also stands out for its careful examination of the role of women, both in these thriller novels and within society, making this book a powerful and unnerving read with thrills that run much deeper than your average surface shocks ... Impossible to put down.


Baker's layered and sharply observed writing feels authentic from the first . . . Moving beyond boundaries to divine the essence of what it is to be a woman navigating life in modern-day Britain.

Claire Thinking

An essential book for our times . . . this is a thrilling, gripping read

Tales Before Bedtime

The depth and style of literary fiction [with] the thrill of a more contemporary read

Cheryl M-M's Book Blog

The Body Lies is one of those brilliant books that gave me the rage in all the right ways . . . A raw and challenging novel that deserves to be widely read

The Shelf of Unread Books

There is tension, drama and sense of jeopardy aplenty

What Cathy Read Next

A compelling, uncomfortable and overwhelming read . . . absolutely brilliant.

Beverley Has Read

I felt compelled to read on and find out what would happen next


A timely and powerful literary thriller which makes for a thought-provoking and unsettling read

Hair Past a Freckle blog

Thought provoking and intelligent . . . I cannot recommend highly enough.

Amanda Duncan, My Bookish Blogspot

Offers a really interesting perspective on how women are represented in life


It is insidiously unnerving in such a clever way . . . had me well and truly hooked!

Bookish Chat

Dark, unforgiving, suspenseful and thought-provoking

Emma's Bookish Corner

Campus novel satire and the high drama of a thriller combine in a fiendishly readable interrogation of the allure of violent fiction

SARAH MOSS, Guardian

The final chapters deliver the heart-in-mouth genre denouement we’ve been waiting for


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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    June 18, 2019


    288 pages

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Hardback


    June 13, 2019


    288 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    June 13, 2019

    Transworld Digital

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ
  • Audio Download


    June 13, 2019

    Transworld Digital

    Online retailers

    • Audible NZ
    • Google Play Audio NZ
    • Kobo Audiobook

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