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Review: First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

Review: First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston is a quick read about hidden identities.

Reese’s Book Club tends to start out the year with a thriller. Usually they are in the more psychological thriller arena, for example, alcoholic woman remembers only glimpses of the past, etc. But First Lie Wins is more of a thrilling mystery. There’s a cat-and-mouse game and plenty of lies and secrets.

This story has a ton of good reviews and last year, it was announced the book will be adapted for a series on Hulu. I think it will work really well as a series. I liked it enough for sure. Didn’t love it, I wasn’t blown away, but I think it was different and distinct enough to make it stand out.

What’s the Story About

The story follows Evie Porter, who seems to have it all: perfect boyfriend, huge house in the South, going to fancy parties, and more. But turns out, Evie Porter doesn’t actually exist.

She works for Mr. Smith, a mysterious man who gives her a new identity and assignment for every job. But this time around, she begins to get close to the mark—Ryan Summers—and it changes everything. And that’s just the beginning of her challenges.

Cat-and-Mouse Game

I like the cat-and-mouse type stories. They’re entertaining and breezy to read. They never tend to get super disturbing or warrant trigger warnings, which I do very much appreciate.

First Lie Wins handles the cat-and-mouse analogy in a fun and entertaining way. There’s also a twist that totally caught me off guard. And I love when that happens.

Also, I liked the protagonist and her dynamic with Ryan. Mr. Smith was fine but I did want a little more backstory there.

The Setting

Finally, a book not set in New York or LA! I like both of those places but man, sometimes it feels like authors only want to write about big cities. I loved the setting in the South and the author Ashley Elston really nailed the overall vibes of Southern life, even down to the obsession with the SEC.

There’s actually quite a bit of college football mentioned, even talking about pre-NIL life, and it was kind of a fun addition. As someone who enjoys college football (boomer!), I enjoyed those little tidbits.

More stories set in towns, please!


I thought First Lie Wins was entertaining enough. You kind have to throw a lot of believability out the window with these stories or they might drive you crazy. But still, it has to feel somewhat grounded in reality or it just ventures into absolutely ridiculous territory.

First Lie Wins is not believable in any way, which is fine. But I did feel it kind of got a little out there at times, even for this kind of story. There’s a key moment, which no spoilers here, early on that I almost quit the book. But I stayed with it and in the end, I’m glad I did. It was quick and a nice break from heavy literary fiction.

Again, I think this is a decent story to start off your 2024 reading journey. Will it make the best books of 2024 lists? Maybe, but not mine. But not all books need to do that. Sometimes you need a quick read and that’s totally fine.

Check out my book club questions here.