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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Lies I Told

ISBN: ‎ 978-1542032636

Publisher: Montlake

Publication Date: 08/02/2022

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

For a woman obsessed and a killer in her shadow, remembering the past becomes a mind game in a novel of psychological suspense by New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton.

Twin sisters Marisa and Clare Stockton were sixteen when Clare’s body was found in Virginia’s James River. No arrests were made.

Fourteen years later, Marisa’s friends and dedicated career as a photographer help her to cope with the open wound of the past. But Marisa still feels the hurt—and the unsolved murder isn’t the only thing haunting her.

A recent car crash has erased ten days of Marisa’s memories—a black hole leading up to the accident that’s left her disoriented. Every text and phone call from that crucial missing time has vanished, along with her phone. A photograph she took of the river has disappeared. A new neighbor Marisa believes she knows introduces himself as if he were a stranger. And there’s the growing fear that her near-fatal accident was no accident at all. As dreams of Clare and nightmares of the crash begin to converge, so do two disturbing puzzles fourteen years apart.

Putting the pieces together could be fatal. As she struggles to remember everything, Marisa closes in on a killer—without realizing that he’s already closed in on her.

About the Author

Mary Burton loves writing suspense, getting to know her characters, keeping up with law enforcement and forensic procedures, morning walks, baking, and tiny dachshunds. She also enjoys hunting down serial killers, which she does in her New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels. Library Journal has compared her work to that of Lisa Jackson and Lisa Gardner, and Fresh Fiction likened her writing to that of James Patterson. When it comes to research, she’s known for taking a hands-on approach, whether it means interviewing professionals, attending forensic seminars or studying evidence collection and analysis.

Mary is routinely featured among the top ten writers in Amazon’s Author Rankings for suspense, romantic suspense and thrillers. Her recent titles The Lies I Told, Don’t Look Now, Near You, Never Look Back, I See You, and Hide and Seek consistently rank high on the Kindle eBooks Store Bestseller List. She is a 2019 Montlake Romance Diamond Award winner signifying she’s reached one million readers.

Formerly a Richmond, Virginia native, Mary now resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She’s a graduate of Virginia’s Hollins University and she worked in marketing before her first book was published in 2000. Today she’s the author of thirty-eight published novels and five novellas as Mary Burton and nine works of contemporary fiction as Mary Ellen Taylor, including Winter Cottage, Spring House, Honeysuckle Season, and the upcoming The Brighter the Light.

She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Novelists, Inc. When not on the road for research or visits with readers at bookstores, book festivals and conferences, Mary remains very much a homebody. She and her husband spend time alternately enjoying their empty nest and spoiling their four-legged babies Buddy, Bella and Tiki. WEBSITE

Q&A Elevator Ride with

New York Times Bestselling

author Mary Burton

Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.


Welcome, Mary!

We are super excited and honored to have you join us today for our featured August #AuthorElevatorSeries ride and your latest highly anticipated psychological suspense thriller everyone is buzzing about —THE LIES I TOLD.

Before we get into the novel, I would like to take a minute to congratulate you! Many of our readers may not know, that you are the author of THIRTY-EIGHT published novels and FIVE NOVELLAS as MARY BURTON! And NINE works of timeless women's fiction as MARY ELLEN TAYLOR. Wow! Quite an accomplishment in the literary world.

I have been reading your books (starting with Mary Burton SUSPENSE and then Mary Ellen Taylor CONTEMPORARY) for many years and huge fan.

"Behind the Book"

Q. Can you share a little about this incredible journey? Also writing two different genres (thrillers and contemporary) under two names must be difficult.

What made you decide to write both, and which is your favorite GENRE? What parts of each do you like the best? Also, do you have a favorite book from each genre?) More than one question.

MARY: I started writing in my thirties and my focus was on historical romance. I wrote 8 historical romances, but I’ve always loved mysteries, so I started the shift to romantic suspense and then later suspense. This all sounds seamless, but it wasn’t quite so easy. There were lots of rejections along the way but as I tell any writer who hits roadblocks, just keep typing. Your break will come.

After writing 10 or so suspense novels, I started to feel the pull back toward historical novels. But this go around I wanted to try a different approach. After a tour of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia I was filled with ideas that later became my first Mary Ellen Taylor novel, THE UNION STREET BAKERY.

What I discovered was that I love writing suspense and women’s/historical fiction. Writing in two genres has been a challenge but it’s also helped each style of book. I found a little mystery in women’s fiction works as does compilated families and strong emotions in suspense novels.

I’m very proud of my 2022 books—Mary Ellen Taylor’s THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT and Mary Burton’s THE LIES I TOLD.

Q. You just published in July of 2022 (a month ago), under the name Mary Ellen Taylor —THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT, set in Nags Head, NC where you reside. A moving historical fiction/contemporary with dual timelines. I loved it!

Can you tell readers a little about it, any inspiration, or any specific research?

MARY: All my MET books start with some historical nugget. For THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT it was an old history book about a showboat that traveled along the US eastern shore. From there, I dug deeper into Nags Head history all the while asking how this showboat could connect to the Outer Banks. I did a good bit of reading about Nags Head circa 1950 as well as investigated the architecture of the beach houses built circa 1890s-1920s that are now called the ‘Unpainted Aristocracy.’

Now, let us dive into your latest suspense psychological thriller, The Lies I Told.

Q. Give us your BEST Elevator Pitch for THE LIES I TOLD.

MARY: A woman, obsessed and a killer lurking in her shadow, struggles to remember a past that holds the key to a grisly crime.

Q. Describe THE LIES I TOLD in three words or less.

MARY: Intense, fast-paced, who-done-it

Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?

MARY: The spark was a character, Marisa, who is missing critical pieces of her past that are now impacting her safety. Marisa’s not only newly sober and investigating the death of her twin, who died fifteen years ago, but she’s surrounded by people who knew both sisters. Everyone has lied about something and it’s Marisa’s job to unravel them all.

Q. SETTING: Tell us more about the book setting (s) and why you selected it.

MARY: I chose the Manchester District of Richmond, which is located on the southside of the James River overlooking the city center. I love this area because it has a great historical and industrial vibe that feeds into the mystery.

Q. RESEARCH: Any fascinating research for the novel, or anything you learned along the way?

MARY: I did a good bit of research on the human brain and how it not only reacts to substance abuse but also blunt force trauma and amnesia. Also, decomposition rates, the placement and state of the body when its discovered, and what body language can reveal about lying.

Q. PLOT: There are plot twists throughout the novel, shocking the reader with new surprises with every turn. Without any spoilers, which one was the most fun for you to create?

MARY: My favorite twists are the ones I don’t see coming. No matter how much I plot, the novel in progress always surprises me. If I don’t see a twist coming, it’s likely the readers won’t either.

Q. DUAL TIMELINES: The novel has two timelines from THEN 2007-2008 to NOW 2022. Do you write as you go alternating, or write one time period first and then the other separately? Your process?

MARY: As I’m plowing through the rough draft, I write the scenes as they come to me and when I feel like the story needs to go back in time, I take it back. When I’m working on subsequent drafts, I’m able to see if the time sequences have worked or not. If a flashback is in the wrong place, it’s easy enough to move. I think though timelines may vary, the storyline and pacing need to always be moving forward.

Q. TITLE/COVER: Lies and secrets are a prominent theme throughout the book and of course part of the title. Everyone is lying. Would you like to expand on the topic and the striking cover?

MARY: All credit goes to my publisher Amazon Publishing who’ve created some of my favorite covers. Any crime solver is going to come up against someone (or everyone) lying. It’s the protagonist’s job to cross-check statements with facts and notice that something a witness is saying is just not quite right. My hope is the reader is working right along with my heroine and trying to figure out who’s telling the truth and who is not.

Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: What fantastic, complex, and dysfunctional characters! Your favorite character to write, or most challenging? How was it writing about identical twins, Marisa and Clare, and Brit the sister? (Twin thrillers are immensely popular now). Also getting inside the head of the mysterious, HIM.

MARY: I’ve written twins before, and I’ve always been curious about them. I think my favorite character is Brit. She is deliciously complicated, the oldest of the sisters, but the odd man out when it came to the twins. I found her motivations and decisions fascinating.

Q. POVs: Him, Marisa, Brit, Richards, Jo-Jo, and Jack. How was writing from this many points of view?

MARY: I love moving in and out of different point of views. It can add so many dimensions to a story. Not only to the characters lie to each other but also to themselves, so even if I’m in a character’s POV there’s no telling if their perspective is accurate.

Q. WRITING: Do you have a favorite chapter or scene in the novel you enjoyed writing the most?

MARY: Some of my favorite scenes are between Marissa and Detective Richards. They’re uneasy allies with a similar goal and over the course of the book develop a mutual respect.

Q. TOPICS: Name 1-3 topics or themes addressed in the novel.

MARY: Munchausen's syndrome, toxic friendships, betrayal.

Q. DID YOU KNOW? Name 1-5 things that readers may not know about the book.

MARY: I treat the setting like a character. In suspense, it needs to be as dangerous as it is charming and alluring. All characters in THE LIES I TOLD have the power to leave Richmond, but all are rooted, frozen in time by a fifteen-year-old murder that’s surrounded by secrets that have entrapped them all.

Q. GENRE: What draws you to this genre?

MARY: I love a good mystery. And the great thing about writing one is that I’m discovering the story as I’m writing. When it all comes together, it is tremendously satisfying.

Q. UPCOMING: Can you share what you are currently working on, or what is next in ten words or less or less?

MARY: It’s another suspense and it’s set on the northern most part of the Outer Banks that’s only accessible by four-wheel drive. So far, I’m loving this story.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add that we have not covered today?

MARY: The pages are going to turn quickly with this book! Enjoy!

Now, for more up close and personal with Mary, below!

Behind the Author




North Carolina




The Ocean.


Clean the kitchen before you go to bed.

Set yourself up for an easy morning and a good start to the next day.


“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.” Henry Ford


Make a few quick notes on a pad or device. I’ll jot it on scrap paper (I never have my notebook). When I get home, I reread all my notes. Some I keep, some I don’t.


Between Mary Burton and Mary Ellen Taylor 49 novels and 5 novellas


I find inspiration everywhere. You never know when there’s a small something that sparks the next book.


My dad was self-employed and now I am too. He taught me you work until the job is done.


I rise about 4:30 a.m. and I love that first hour before the morning workout. The house is still quiet, the day hasn’t gotten rolling and it’s very peaceful.


High-heeled shoes. I’ve donated quite a few pairs lately and wonder if I’ll ever wear again what remains.


You’re going to have setbacks but keep working hard and moving forward. Your luck will improve.


The characters. Readers will forgive a lot, but they must love your characters.


Me. No one is going to care more about your development than you. Don’t overthink it. Just do it.


You always must be challenging yourself, growing and changing. It’s important not to get stale

THANK YOU, MARY, for spending time with us today!

MARY: Thank you for having me.

Readers: Be sure and pick up a copy of THE LIES I TOLD, post your review on your favorite social media platform, and check out any upcoming events with Mary. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. You can check out her complete printable book list for Mary Burton and Mary Ellen Taylor HERE. Be sure and check out all her titles. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

Twin sisters Marisa and Clare Stockton were sixteen when Clare’s body was found in Virginia’s James River. No arrests were made. Now years later, Marisa is determined to find the killer

before he finds her.

My Review

The accomplished multi-talented NYT bestselling author of a whopping 38 published novels (and 5 novellas) as Mary Burton and 9 works of contemporary fiction as Mary Ellen Taylor —is back with her latest in-depth psychological mystery thriller.

THE LIES I TOLD, a thriller about the dark secrets that emerge 14 years after a woman's identical twin sister is murdered— with Burton's signature style: intense, gripping, taut, disturbing, moving, and brilliant prose.


This is one 'messed up' family, group of friends, and killer. Often the ones we fear most are the ones right in front of us all along.

Dual Timelines:

THEN 2007-2008 death of Clare Stockton (twin) age 16.

NOW 2022 Marisa (twin) age 30 determined to find answers.

Two months earlier: Marisa was involved in a car accident after her art show.

Marisa has no idea how she got in her car from the show, and why there were drugs. Her memory was wiped. Was she drugged? She had been sober and drug-free, and now everyone thinks she slipped back into her own ways and waiting for her to screw up again.

How are the timelines and events connected?

Written from the following POVs:

Him (psycho, stalker, creepy, mysterious evil man)

Marisa (twin) protagonist

Brit (older sister) manipulative

John Richards (detective)

Jo-Jo (former BFF of Clare)

Jack (bad boy, drug dealer, bar owner, family friend)

PS Many of these characters are/were friends of Clare, Brit, and Marisa. Small town, each connected to one another more intimately (sexually, and apparently, they all dated the same people). Jo Jo is currently married to Jack. Brit is now dating David (from college). Kurt was dating Clare when she died. He was not charged after the investigation. These close-knit characters make the novel even more INTENSE because you cannot TRUST anyone!

Set in Virginia, twin sisters Marisa and Clare Stockton were sixteen when Clare's body was found in Virginia's James River. No arrests were made.

2020: It is Marisa's 30th birthday (ready to inherit her trust fund, and Clare's portion will go to her). Her older sister, Brit is still playing mind games (very manipulative). Marisa is a talented professional photographer and every day fights to maintain her sobriety (around people and family who do not support her).

They are reopening her sister's cold case (same Detective Richards) and Marisa begins making photos at the river where Clare's body was found and trying to put together the missing pieces of the murder and her recent accident. There are many unanswered questions. Are they related?

The three Stockton sisters had a tragic, troubled childhood and were part of a highly dysfunctional family, starting with their sickness as children, their mom's mental illness, their dad's betrayal, and their mom's death.

On the night of Clare's death, she discovered something (this key point ties all together spoilers here) about their family's betrayal and a dark secret. Upset, Clare goes to a New Year's Eve party at JoJo's house, dressed like Marisa. She was to meet up with Marissa later to tell her what she had uncovered. But she never got the chance.

What happened to Clare when she left the party and the five blocks home? Was it someone she knew? She wound up murdered and thrown in the river. Marisa was to go to the party too, but something happened to her, and she did not make it. How is the sister's murder connected? Did the killer think Clare was Marisa?

Is the killer after her now? The closer she and the detective get to uncovering the truth, the more she is in harm's way. Everyone has too many dangerous dark hidden secrets.

Due to their childhood traumas the twin developed addictions: Marisa turned to alcohol and drugs. Clare turned to acting out, dressing like her sister, and having casual sex. Brit is the wild card (she is no angel, a control freak, and everyone thinks she is the mother hen) after their mom died, putting herself in charge. But did/does she have their best interest at heart?

Richards was also the detective on the case when Marisa's mom died. He investigated Frank, the dad, the twins, and Brit. Now, and when Clare was murdered.

Everyone is lying and keeping secrets. The town seems to want to let sleeping dogs lie, and Marisa is the only one who wants to solve the murder except for Detective Richards, who was on the case fourteen years ago and now. He is close to retirement (two weeks) and under much pressure to solve the case. Marisa knows they must find the murderer before he moves to Florida.

So many suspects and so many bad guys. Who is the real killer?

Burton dazzles in her latest —equal parts murder mystery and psychological thriller, a deftly plotted page-turner that explores the power of family secrets, sibling rivalry, toxic friendships, and broken ties.


Multi-layered with heart-pounding twists and turns. The author dives deep into the mind of a serial killer and many others which are disturbingly connected in many ways. I loved Detective Richards, Marisa, and Alan, but all the others, NOT so much. I could not wait for her to get away from these evil toxic people.

THE LIES I TOLD is a little different than Burton's past books. Her earlier books from way back (I have been a fan for many years) were more romantic suspense (like Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown) to cop procedurals and later heavier on the forensics, FBI, and crime thrillers (like Lisa Gardner-a favorite).

In my opinion, this one is less cop procedural, forensics, and more of a deeper dive into the mind of a killer, his friends, family, and all those connected. Character-driven with highly flawed and dysfunctional family members with mental health, addictions, etc.

True psychological mystery suspense (whodunit) murder thriller. A cross between gritty and dark (Karin Slaughter/Lisa Unger) and domestic suspense/family dramas with highly-charged topics (D. J Palmer/Jodi Picoult/Mary Kubica) and the Burton signature style.

Dark, gritty, intense! You will root for Marisa until the satisfying conclusion.

Highly charged topics: Munchausen's syndrome, child abuse, addiction, alcoholism, mental health, drugs, family dysfunction, sexual assault, drugging, toxic friendships, murder, lust, revenge, greed, lies, deceit, manipulation, secrets, betrayal, pregnancy, voyeurism, and suicide.

A long-time fan of the author both Mary Burton and Mary Ellen Taylor and highly recommend all her books.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Stay tuned for my #AuthorElevatorSeries Interview with Mary coming pub day (8/2) where we go behind the book and the author.

You can sign up for my newsletter to have it delivered to your inbox on Aug 2! Do not miss this one. Don't you just love devious "twin" thrillers? I have been reading quite a few lately.

Also out now THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT by Mary Ellen Taylor (she writes under two names). It is also a five-star winner. Check it out.

A special thank you to #Montake the author and #Netgalley for a digital ARC to read, review, and enjoy.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pub Date: Aug 2, 2022







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