Trust Me (Forge Books) by Hank Phillippi Ryan has already garnered so much praise (i.e. Booklist starred review, Book Bub Top Summer Thriller, Popsugar Top Summer Thriller, CrimeReads Most Anticipated Thriller, New York Post Best Thriller of the Summer) that any further accolades seem almost superfluous. But, please indulge me, as I add my voice to the growing chorus of enthusiastic “bravas!”
Trust Me centers on two women: Mercer, a journalist who recently lost her family in a car crash, and Ashlyn, a twenty-something who allegedly killed her own daughter. Mercer has been assigned a plum job, to write a tell-all about the surely guilty Ashlyn. The women are uneasily connected by the loss of their children. But obviously, there is a major difference. One was through an accident, and the other through murder.
But then again, everything is not always as it seems. To find the truth, we must peel back the layers of the novel.
The story unfolds at a distance, which only makes sense. A journalist should have a certain remove from her subject. Mercer watches the trial through a video hook-up in her house, and an unseen voice announces the start of the trial every morning. This highlights the space between the two women, but also a hidden parallel. After her personal tragedy, Mercer has become a prisoner of her own home while Ashlyn is in a literal jail.
The next layer is the story within the story. Mercer is writing a contemporaneous true-crime book of the trial, which lends a “48 Hours” feel to the text. But when Mercer actually meets Ashlyn, the drama turns up close and decidedly real. And the characters are so well rendered that we fully engage with both. We can feel Mercer’s pain. Her world has not just been shaken, but shattered, and we watch breathlessly as she struggles to pick up all the pieces. And Ashlyn isn’t just a woman in orange with shackles on her feet. She is not just trash magazine fodder. She is the sweet, young stay-at-home mom next door with a bright smile and a ponytail, and a complicated, tragic backstory.
Ping-ponging between these two women, we can’t help but wonder – who is telling the truth? Who should we trust? Cops are outside watching the house, but are they following Ashlyn or Mercer? Mercer’s journalist friends are trying to help her rebuild a fragile new life. Or are they? Nothing is ever black and white. But living in the world of gray can be a dangerous, deadly place.
Perhaps this book is so popular because it is so timely. Mercer is a journalist. Her job is to tell the truth. But in this world of propaganda and “fake news,” what is the truth?
The book has been described as a cat-and-mouse game between two women. But, it’s more than that. It’s a portrait of a woman on the edge, a woman unraveling, lost in mind games that twist her very world. She starts to trust no one and doubt everything. And readers will be lured into murky waters with her. The book should come with a warning. Beware: swim at your own risk. There are no lifeguards here. To get to dry land, you will need to figure out who you can trust.
And trust me, you will be whipping through the pages to find out.
Trust Me will be available for purchase August 28.
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ABOUT HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:
Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV. She’s won 34 Emmys and dozens of more journalism honors. The nationally bestselling author of 10 mysteries, Ryan’s also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, two Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne, and for The Other Women, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. Critics call her “a master of suspense” and “a superb and gifted storyteller” and she is the only author to have won the Agatha in four different categories: Best First, Best Novel, Best Short Story and Best Non-Fiction. Her novels have been named Library Journal’s Best of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Hank’s newest book is the acclaimed standalone psychological suspense thriller Trust Me (August 28, 2018), which Suspense Magazine’s reviewer calls “By far one of the best thrillers I’ve read in years.” Lisa Gardner calls it “Mesmerizing!” and New York Post, BOOK BUB, PopSugar, and CrimeReads named it one of the Best Thrillers of Summer 2018.
Hank is a founder of MWA University and past president of National Sisters in Crime. Visit Hank online at HankPhillippiRyan.com, on Twitter @HankPRyan, on Instagram @hankpryan and Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthor.