cover image First Lie Wins

First Lie Wins

Ashley Elston. Viking/Dorman, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-49291-8

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.)