“Lie to Me: a Novel” (Mira), by J.T. Ellison

A husband and wife who appear to be happy on the surface expose their reality to the world when the wife leaves behind a cryptic note and runs away with $50,000 in “Lie to Me,” J.T. Ellison’s latest thriller.

Ethan Montclair is battling writer’s block, and his author-wife Sutton has been unable to finish her latest book. They are both battling grief after the death of their infant son, and it has been slowly pulling them apart.

When he finds her note and none of her friends know where she is, he begins to believe that she’s gone for good. Since he doesn’t report the incident to the police, it begins to steer suspicion to him. Did Sutton’s anger toward Ethan force her to create an elaborate plot to have him arrested for her death? It would seem so, but then police find the body of a woman in the woods.

Ellison can write compelling stories with characters that aren’t necessarily likable but who feel authentic. Both Ethan and Sutton have major flaws that will force the reader to choose sides in their marriage battle, but that is what makes them seem like real human beings.

While the fireworks and mystery are seemingly straightforward, Ellison has created an elaborate ruse that will surprise even the savviest thriller aficionado. Comparisons to “Gone Girl” due to the initial story structure are expected, but Ellison has crafted a much better story that will still echo long after the final page is turned.

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JEFF AYERS
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