🎧 First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston @ashley_elston @SaskiaAudio @PRHAudio #LoveAudiobooks @4saintjude

Posted May 3, 2024 by KC in Book Review / 3 Comments

Review copy was received from Library. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

🎧 First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston @ashley_elston @SaskiaAudio @PRHAudio #LoveAudiobooks @4saintjudeFirst Lie Wins by Ashley Elston
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Published by Penguin Audio on January 2, 2024
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Length: 9 hours, 16 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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 will be different. 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.

Because the one thing she’s worked her entire life to keep clean, the one identity she could always go back to—her real identity—just walked right into this town. 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...

When I pick up a stand-alone thriller/suspense novel, to some extent, I understand how the plot will unfold.  I realize the ‘thrill’ part of thriller is in not knowing what is going to happen, however, if you read enough of them, they tend to unfold in a particular way.  Regardless, I still enjoy the character building, the clue gathering, the way an author manages to tie all the pieces together in the end, and also figuring out what twist the author might throw in for good measure.  When I started First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston, I thought I had the plot figured out, twists and all.  I was wrong.  The book totally surprised me in the best way possible.

Evie Porter is the current fake identity assumed by the heroine.  She’s playing the role so well that she’s beginning to feel like she might actually be Evie Porter, considering for the first time of what her life could look like if she wasn’t running a con.  The story is told in the first person, with occasional flashbacks to previous jobs that the woman we know as Evie has run for the mysterious Mr. Smith.  It isn’t 100% clear who Mr. Smith really is.  Government?  Assassin?  Is her assignment to gather intel on the current job, or is she supposed to kill him?  I found myself paying special attention to even the tiniest detail and parsing that in my head in case it would be important later on.

The story builds in such a way it was easy to not see Evie as the villain, although at face value, she should be considered the bad guy.  I empathized with her, especially considering her original purpose in turning to crime, and more so as she struggles with her current assignment.  I was still trying to reconcile her role as Evie with the actual personal playing Evie.  I’d moved on to consider possibilities where Evie was the good guy.  Is she running a sting operation to take down an organized crime outfit?

Things took a turn for the weird when she comes face to face with her own identity, and again, I had to regroup to understand where this book was really going.  I am trying to be vague so I don’t spoil the story for anyone else, but there are two twists that turned my initial impressions upside down and had me reassessing who I was supposed to be rooting for.  Evie develops working relationships with a couple of characters that eased my mind about being ‘Team Evie.’  I felt that the story ended with enough ambiguity regarding the ‘big picture’ that could easily lead into a sequel.

First Lie Wins is a well-written, fun story that was intricate but not mired down with details and procedure.  Although the story is complex, it was actually a really easy read (I know how that sounds).  I think this would make a great vacation read, especially if you want a change from average beach read or romance.


Anyone familiar with Saskia Maarleveld knows she is a fantastic narrator.  She’s exceptionally good at portraying vulnerability without being whiny.   Her performance of Evie was level, and low-key and fit the character perfectly.

Listen to a clip:  HERE

Rating Breakdown
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Narration (Audio)
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Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
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Posted May 3, 2024 by KC in Book Review / 3 Comments

3 responses to “🎧 First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

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