Friday, January 15, 2021

Book Review: The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and twisty plot
Cons: One annoying character; a few minor nits to pick
The Bottom Line:
Lies and deception
Create a twisty thriller
That’s hard to put down

Who Do You Trust When You Are Surrounded by Lies?

Last year (still trying to grasp that 2020 is last year already), I spent some time listening to Hank Phillippi Ryan’s first two stand alone suspense novels.  When The First to Lie came out, it was extremely popular at the library, so I didn’t even try to get it until now.  I knew I was in for another wild, twisty ride, and I enjoyed it.

As this book opens, we meet two women.  Nora has just taken a job as a sales rep for a Boston based pharmaceutical company.  However, she is not that interested in selling the product.  Instead, she is keeping her identity a secret so she can try to find some kind of dirt on the company.  Meanwhile, Ellie is a reporter who has just gotten a job at a Boston news station that is about to relaunch itself.  She is planning a story on the same pharmaceutical company, but she is having trouble getting sources to go on the record.  But in a world where everyone is lying, who can be trusted?

It's hard to describe much more of the plot than that without risking giving away spoilers.  This is a book that is best to go into as blindly as possible anyway.  I did pick up on a few twists before they were revealed, but there were others that caught me completely off guard.

Most of the characters were great.  I could sympathize with them and it was easy to root for them.  However, in all three of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s stand alones, she has had one character who just annoys me to no end.  I get that the character is supposed to be one we aren’t sure if we can trust or not, but I really had a hard time when that character in this book was on the page.

There were also some issues that a good edit could have taken care of.  The timeline seemed off to me, although I might have missed something since I listened to the audio.  There was definitely one continuity error, however.  Overall, these were minor, but they did annoy me.

As I said, I listened to the audio version.  Cassandra Campbell was the narrator.  She was good, but it took me a bit to really begin to distinguish some of the characters from each other.

There are multiple view point characters in this book and even a couple of different timelines.  Each chapter is clearly marked as to who and when the scene fits into the story.  I had no problems following the narrative even while listening to the book.  I only specify that because I couldn’t flip back to the beginning of a chapter if I got confused.

This is one of those books where there were several nits to pick.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking I didn’t enjoy the book.  Overall, this is a great story of suspense that kept me very entertained while on a long drive recently.  I wouldn’t have minded an even longer drive because I had to know what was going to happen next.

The First to Lie is a suspenseful page turner, and that’s no lie.  Set aside plenty of time when you pick up this book because you won’t want to put it down.

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