Reviews for First Lie Wins

by Ashley Elston

Publishers Weekly
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The anonymous narrator of Elston’s ingeniously plotted adult debut (after the YA novel 10 Truths and a Dare) has long relied on charm and physical strength to complete a string of lucrative, increasingly dangerous missions from her mysterious boss. For her latest assignment, as in the past, she’s been given a fresh identity (“Evie”), a destination, and the name of her mark, about whom she’s supposed to learn everything and await further instructions. But the closer Evie gets to hunky Louisiana financial adviser Ryan Sumner—before long, she’s his full-time girlfriend—the more unusual this job seems. Things get especially bizarre when one of Ryan’s oldest friends shows up with a date who looks nearly identical to Evie and introduces herself by Evie’s actual name. Might Evie’s boss be setting her up? Is Ryan in on it? With the clock ticking, Evie and her MIT dropout/computer whiz sidekick, Devon, scramble to unravel what’s really going on. Though a few plot elements, particularly those concerning Devon’s hacking feats, strain credibility, Elston whips up plenty of suspense and delivers a satisfyingly serpentine finale. This promises more good things from Elston to come. (Jan.)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Evie Porter is a sweet, southern girl from a small Alabama town. At least, that’s the story she tells. In reality, she’s a professional con artist whose specialty is insinuating herself into people’s lives, gaining their trust so she can expose their secrets. Her handler, Mr. Smith, is disappointed in her recent performance, so her new assignment needs to be completed flawlessly, and Evie makes her way into Ryan Sumner's life. But then the unthinkable happens: a young woman named Lucca Marino enters Ryan and Evie’s orbit—and Lucca Marino is Evie’s real name, a secret that only Mr. Smith would know. Then the fake Lucca ends up dead, and Evie becomes a suspect, a complication that could expose her if she doesn’t handle everything perfectly. Everyone in Elston’s fast-paced adult debut has a secret, and none of the characters are trustworthy or reliable. Evie is a delightfully morally ambiguous antiheroine whose ability to think on her feet results in a relentless array of shocking twists that lead to a satisfying ending. Fans of thrillers by Rachel Hawkins and Vera Kurian will be enthralled.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A professional con woman quickly realizes her latest job has become more personal and dangerous than planned. Evie Porter (not her real name) is on a job in Louisiana and has successfully convinced her latest mark, Ryan Sumner, to fall for her in a whirlwind romance. All seems to be going well with Evie's investigation into Ryan's side business, a trucking company moving black market goods, until Evie meets a woman dating one of Ryan’s friends who introduces herself as Lucca Marino—Evie’s actual name. When imposter Lucca dies in a fiery car wreck and the police question Evie and Ryan as the last people to see her, an outstanding warrant pops for Evelyn Porter's arrest (though there should be no such history). It’s then that Evie understands that her current job is actually a test from her employer, Mr. Smith, who was unhappy after she busted her last assignment, and the stakes are much higher than she’d anticipated. To keep herself out of jail, Evie must pull in every favor she has accumulated during her career to outwit Mr. Smith, but she will have to first discern whether she can trust Ryan or if she has to cut and run if she wants any hope for a future. Interspersed with the current adventure are flashbacks that start 10 years earlier in which Evie recalls committing petty theft at the country club in a desperate bid for cash to pay for her mother’s cancer treatments during high school, being connected with Mr. Smith when she was caught, and the progression of jobs since then in which a host of lively side characters are introduced. YA writer Elston’s adult debut announces itself as a savvy thriller with intrigue and momentum from the first twist of Lucca’s arrival right up until the final showdowns. Evie is a smart and engaging protagonist, and her time on the run is anything but predictable. A genuine page-turner. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.