Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison


*I received a free ARC of this novel from my employer.*

My Rating: 4/5

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

They built a life on lies.

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

My Thoughts:
This was my first book by J.T. Ellison and I really enjoyed it! Lie to Me is marketed as comparable to Gone Girl, which initially made me nervous. I read and loved Gone Girl when it first came out and find that too many books are eager to be “the next Gone Girl” without truly deserving the comparison. But in Lie to Me, Ellison successfully nods to the organizational structure of Gone Girl while still managing to make it her own. Its short chapters make for a very quick read and I finished this thriller in 24 hours. By changing the chapter narrators every so often, the reader is left guessing who is telling the truth, and with whom we should root for.

As far as the characters, I found them to be dynamic, well-rounded, and interesting. I’m a big fan of unlikeable protagonists, and Ellison succeeded with this where many authors and writers don’t. Even with an unlikeable protagonist, or an anti-hero, the reader/audience still needs to like the protagonist. We need a reason to want them to succeed, despite their negative qualities. We need a reason to keep reading or watching. Lie to Me’s protagonists, Sutton and Ethan, straddle this fine lie flawlessly. I found myself hoping against hope that Ethan didn’t kill his wife and that Sutton didn’t kill their child. Lie to Me does not shy away from calling out its characters’ faults and encourages the reader to question just how much we’re willing to excuse.

From a diversity standpoint, this book is both a hit and a miss. Yes, we have a female author, female lead character, and numerous female supporting characters (including the lead detectives). There is also a lesbian couple, who are mentioned once or twice throughout the novel. On the other hand, everyone is white. I find this hard to believe in terms of accuracy, as Lie to Me predominately takes place in present-day Tennessee, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people of color exist there. So, yes, strong female characters but America is not nearly this white. This novel also features more than one character with a mental illness. It’s hard to talk about this component without venturing into spoiler territory, so if you have more questions or thoughts about this, please comment below or send me an email. What I will say, though, is that I think the mental illness facet could have been handled better. As a whole, Lie to Me could be stronger on the diversity and inclusion spectrum.

Wrap Up:
Overall, I really enjoyed Lie to Me! I gave this a 4/5 stars and would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of thrillers and Gone Girl.

This book is…
a page turner
for adults only

This book contains content warnings for…
domestic violence
forced pregnancy and teen pregnancy
murder (and graphic descriptions thereof)
parental neglect/child abuse
sex (consensual)
verbal abuse

Publisher: MIRA Books, an imprint of Harper Collins (2017)
Genre: thriller/mystery

Page Count: 426 for the paperback
ISBN: 0778330958

Available here from Book Depository.

Have you read Lie to Me? What thriller would you recommend?

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