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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

First Lie Wins

Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld

Penguin Audio

ISBN: 978-0593492918

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Publication Date: 01/02/2024

Format: Audio

My Rating: 5 Stars

Evie Porter has everything a nice, Southern girl could want: a perfect, doting boyfriend, a house with a white picket fence and a garden, a fancy group of friends. The only catch: Evie Porter doesn’t exist.

"Buckle up. First Lie Wins features some of the best cat and mouse suspense I've read in years, while serving up plenty of heart along this wild ride."—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Step Too Far

“First Lie Wins is a high-stakes thriller…Smart and sharp, fast-paced and twisty...a truly unpredictable, unforgettable story!”—Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of The Last to Vanish

The identity comes first: Evie Porter. Once she’s given a name and location by her mysterious boss Mr. Smith, she learns everything there is to know about the town and the people in it. Then the mark: Ryan Sumner. The last piece of the puzzle is the job.

Evie isn’t privy to Mr. Smith’s real identity, but she knows this job will be different. Ryan has gotten under her skin, and she’s starting to envision a different sort of life for herself. But Evie can’t make any mistakes—especially after what happened last time.

Because the one thing she’s worked her entire life to keep clean, the one identity she could always go back to—her real identity—just walked right into this town. Evie Porter must stay one step ahead of her past while making sure there’s still a future in front of her. The stakes couldn't be higher—but then, Evie has always liked a challenge...

My Review

Ashley Elston's debut adult novel, FIRST LIE WINS is a smashing hit thriller with an exciting game of cat-and-mouse. Fans of Hank Phillippi Ryan will want to get this new thriller on their TBR list!

GOOD BEHAVIOR: (top books of 2016) When listening to the audiobook, I immediately thought of one of my favorite series (book & TV), Good Behavior, based on the Letty Dobesh starring Michelle Dockery —books by Blake Crouch! Loved the dynamic duo! If you recall Good Behavior centered on con artist Letty Raines and her inability—despite good intentions—to consistently live a clean life. Fresh out of prison, Letty attempts to reunite with her 10-year-old son and keep in regular contact with her parole officer, whose motives for helping her are questionable. But after she overhears a hit man being hired to kill a man's wife, Letty sets out to derail the job and finds herself on a collision course with the killer, entangling herself in a dangerous and seductive relationship. I was so sad when this TV series ended and loved all the books.


Set in Louisiana, Evie Porter is a Southern gal growing up in the South with a single mom living in a trailer. She does what she can to survive.

She has a job and a boss Mr. Smith. A mechanically altered voice over the phone, a devious man who likes to play his operatives against each other. The pay is good, and Evie is an expert.

She takes on another identity and infiltrates assigned client/life to attain the necessary information that Mr. Smith wants. Often it is to blackmail them, take over the business, or steal data. She has not met him. She has to be on the run with the identity change at a moment's notice.

So when she gets the opportunity to spy on Ryan (her latest victim), and they fall for one another, and she moves in, can she keep her past a secret without him knowing what she is up to?

He is a successful businessman in a nice small-town neighborhood. He has taken over his family's business. But he may have a shady past too. Thus, the wicked fun game of cat and mouse page-turner.

She moves in and meets Ryan's friends. One woman has her name? What the heck is going on?

Lucca, known by the people in her life as Evie Porter when we meet her, chooses the darker path. She's agreed to work with Matt and his boss, Mr. Smith.

She wants to leave Mr. Smith, but not the kind of job you can just leave, so she needs to find a way to turn the tables on him. Otherwise, she will wind up dead.

Can she trust Ryan? Someone is setting her up for murder. She is on the run until she can devise a plan to bring down Mr. Smith and get the life she wants.

WOW! I loved FIRST LIE WINS! Elston's debut into the adult novel genre is electrifying! From humor, wit, and suspense, what a caper! I love Evie's character and sympathize with her and her love of her mom and her strong resilience and survival. She is street-smart and savvy! I hope we see her again in future books!

A new adult thriller author to watch!

I purchased the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Saskia Maarleveld for a must-listen audio experience that will keep you glued to your AirPods. I highly recommend the audiobook!

On a side note as to why just reviewing this book:

Needless to say, I was disappointed when I received a 'decline'on Netgalley for an ARC. I never get declined and have over 1500 reviews on NetGalley and 80% ratio! Also a ten year active book blog and more. I am auto-approved by all the big publishers and get anything invited to all the top books. What gives?

Due to not receiving an ARC, I did not include this in my initial Jan 2024 Must Read Books Newsletter. I only include books on this list with an advanced reading copy. I have to read them in advance. So, I had to go a second posting to include.

However, for the books I purchase, I have to work them in, which comes below my NetGalley books and reading/review schedule.

So, I purchased the audiobook, and it was highly entertaining! Hopefully, this publisher will get me back on the list for the next book, so I do not have to wait!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 2, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars

About the Author

Ashley Elston lives in North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She was a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years so most of her Saturday nights included eating cake, realizing no shoe is comfortable after standing for more than six hours and inevitably watching some groomsman do the alligator across the dance floor. Now, Ashley helps her husband run their small business and she writes as often as possible. WEBSITE







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