First Lie Wins

First Lie Wins

by Ashley Elston

Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld

Unabridged — 9 hours, 16 minutes

First Lie Wins

First Lie Wins

by Ashley Elston

Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld

Unabridged — 9 hours, 16 minutes

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Notes From Your Bookseller

A twisty cat-and-mouse suspense that will leave you addicted to both the story and the immensely compelling and deliciously complex protagonist, Evie. While at its core a mystery, there is plenty of heart to fill in the rest of the space, making this a memorable debut.


“This fast-paced read has everything you could want in a thriller: secret identities, a mysterious boss and a cat & mouse game that kept me guessing the whole way through.” -Reese Witherspoon

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

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 isn't like the others. 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.

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. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


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.)

From the Publisher

Praise for First Lie Wins:

"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. I'm still breathless."
—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Step Too Far

"What a box of tricks! First Lie Wins flickers past like a shadow-play: just when you think you've worked out what you're seeing, the shapes shift, the scene transforms, and — hold on — maybe you had it wrong a moment ago? Cool and clever and full-on fun, the sort of slippery high-stakes now-you-see-me-now-you-don't thriller that few novelists are bold enough to attempt these days. Pick it up, please. This is a good one."
—A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window and End of Story

First Lie Wins is a high-stakes thriller that brilliantly explores identity and love, truth and deception. Smart and sharp, fast-paced and twisty, this book kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the very last. Ashley Elston has crafted a truly unpredictable, unforgettable story. I loved it!”
—Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Survivors

“Wildly inventive, diabolically clever....Filled with meticulously plotted details and stakes that will wholly consume you, Ashley Elston also delivers one of the most likeable, morally gray characters I've ever encountered. I devoured First Lie Wins and am now an Ashley Elston fan for life.”
—Julie Clark, New York Times bestselling author of The Lies I Tell

“First Lie Wins is the most suspenseful game of deception I've ever read…. Ashley Elston peeled back layer upon layer of a carefully crafted plot, revealing a series of twists and reveals I never saw coming. Brilliant!”
—Elle Cosimano, New York Times bestselling author of Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

"You don't know who to trust in this taut and expertly plotted thriller from Ashley Elston. First Lie Wins is an edge-of-your-seat read that's as emotionally moving as it is gripping. I loved every minute of it!"
—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Local Woman Missing

"A suspenseful and taut page-turner that is impossible to put down! First Lie Wins captivated me with its twisty premise and left me spellbound by the memory of its richly-drawn characters."
Megan Shepherd, New York Times bestselling author of Malice House

"Who is the cat and who is the mouse? It’s hard to tell when even the bad guys are so likable that you can’t help but root for them. Clever, twisty, and suspenseful, First Lie Wins kept me on my toes right up to the satisfying conclusion."
—Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Last House on the Street

"Sharp, engaging, and unputdownable. Elston executes hair-pin turns masterfully, leaving readers gasping in surprise but firmly in their seats and ready for more. A smart suspense with romantic elements that keeps the thrills coming and the reader thinking of the story long after the book is done."
—Alyssa Cole, New York Times bestselling author of When No One is Watching

"Outstanding! The deeply woven characters in First Lie Wins pulled me in from the first page, then took me on a spellbinding ride. Ashley Elston has crafted an ingenious, unforgettable cat and mouse thriller!"
—Wendy Walker, bestselling author of What Remains

"A whip-smart, twisty thriller with a surprisingly big heart. First Lie Wins is the type of book that begs to be read in one sitting.”
—Kara Thomas, author of Out of the Ashes

“Prepare to trust no one on this high-speed thrill ride through timelines, identities, and motives as you work to piece together Elston's expertly crafted puzzle. First Lie Wins is a fun, clever spin on the con artist novel, perfect for fans of The Lies I Tell and The Lady Upstairs.”
—Ashley Winstead, author of Midnight is the Darkest Hour

"Ingeniously plotted. . . Elston whips up plenty of suspense and delivers a satisfyingly serpentine finale. This promises more good things from Elston to come."
Publishers Weekly

"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."

"I really enjoyed this – very unexpected and pacy with a brilliant central character." 
Harriet Tyce, bestselling author of Blood Orange and The Lies You Told

"Absolutely brilliant. I devoured it." 
Heidi Perks, bestselling author of The Whispers

"An absolute CRACKER of a bookclever, original and compelling."
Rachel Abbott, bestselling author of Don't Look Away

JANUARY 2024 - AudioFile

Listeners will be convinced there's a full cast delivering this fast-paced thriller. Yet it's just one narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, who masterfully voices all the characters, male and female, Southern and not. Evie Porter has many names and personas she has adopted for her work for the mysterious Mr. Smith. Evie is a criminal with a heart and a conscience. The narrative goes back and forth in time, revealing the successful and disastrous assignments that have landed her in a small town in Louisiana, where she's building a loving relationship with her next target, Ryan Summer--who has secrets of his own. The twists and turns will keep listeners glued to their earbuds all the way to the satisfying conclusion. E.Q. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2024, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940160097688
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 01/02/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,056
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