First Lie Wins

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Evie seems to be unequally matched to her boyfriend, Ryan, in regards to social status.  Ryan is aware of this and helps her hide some of her unflattering background from his friends.  But there is a lot that even Ryan doesn't know - like the lengths Evie went through to "meet" him.  Evie claims to be from a small town in Alabama.  Ryan works in East Texas, but they live in Lake Forbing in northern Louisiana.  Evie tells people she is the lone survivor of an accident that killed her entire family, and even goes so far as to create some internet pages that corroborate her story.

One of the nice things about this book is that it is clear that there are secrets and things we are not privy to.  Casual sentences like, "The friends always require the most work." (Ch. 5, ePg. 30)  or "These feelings for him are leading me down a path I cannot take, so this little reminder of all he's hiding from me and all I'm hiding from him is welcome." (Ch. 6, ePg. 35)  I like knowing up front that I don't know everything.  I find it really frustrating when I read a book and think I understand what's going on and then there's a huge twist at the end that make me feel like I missed something and should go back and reread.  But this book tells me up front that I should be looking for more and, I'm expecting, there will be twists.

Another nice thing is that the title is explained early on.  Ch. 5, ePg. 27 gives us a great explanation of what is implied by the title.

On a scale of 1 - 5:

Sex:  1

Religion:   0

Gruesome:  0

Suspense:  2

Morality:  1

Sex - a few minor references

Religion - no mention at all

Gruesome - all violence happens off the pages with no details

Suspense - What did Evie leave for new-Lucca to find? (Ch. 13, ePg. 121)  How will this all work out?  Who is Mr. Smith?  But nothing so suspenseful that I felt compelled to stay up reading, even though I was very engaged with and curious about the story.

Morality - neighbors comment on Ryan and Evie moving in together before marriage (Ch. 3, ePg. 17)  Evie calls a former mark some names, loud enough that his neighbors can hear. (Ch. 19, ePg. 219)

I had so many questions as I was reading:

I assumed Evie was a scheming young lady, perhaps trying to escape a troubled past, or perhaps just bored.  But in Chapter 9 we start to see that there is more to it.  I appreciate how some questions are raised and then clearly answered so we're not left wondering for the whole book and then, as some other books do, throw all the answers at the reader in a rushed manner at the end.

On a rather unrelated note, Evie's first assignment was with a couple named Greg and Jenny.  I wonder if the author was a fan of All My Children and the couple played by Laurence Lau and Kim Delaney.

I knew this was a book I'd have to read carefully between the lines, but maybe I was reading too analytically.  In the Alias: Mia Bianchi - Six Years Ago chapter, I was confused about the possibility of misinformation for a cause or bad editing with the following potential clues:

So did this job speed up since there really weren't months before she got further instructions, or did they mean further after the second set of instructions?  And if it did speed up, why?  Is it important to the overall story?  Is three months long for a job?  How long was an average job?

Discussion Questions

What were signs that you were a couple?  (Ch. 1, ePg. 1)  Describe the first time you met your spouse's friends.

When Evie went to her mailbox, she punched the code with her knuckles.  Did you think this was to avoid germs, or to avoid fingerprints? (Ch. 4, ePg. 22)  

Evie didn't ask why Ryan wasn't dressed up for work with suit and styled hair. (Ch. 6, ePg. 31)  Would you have asked?  What if it was someone, like your spouse, that you'd had a longer relationship with?  

What were your hypotheses?  Why did you think Evie was lying to Ryan?  When Evie meets Lucca, and implies that Lucca is telling Evie's story - what did you think was happening? (Ch. 7, ePg. 43-44)  In Chapter 9 Evie claims the other Lucca is "an impostor using [her] true identity". (ePg. 67)  How did that change your understanding of what was happening?  What new theories did your form after Evie overheard Ryan talking to George?  Several times, Evie confirmed with Devon that he was handling things in Lake Forbing. ( ref. Ch. 22, ePg. 272)  What did you think Devon was doing in Lake Forbing?

Ryan's former acquaintance James came back to town with a girlfriend who was telling the story of Evie's true life.  Evie understood the girl was a plant from the same company she worked for.  But what did you think about James happening to come back right at the time that new-Lucca needed a cover?  Did you think James worked for the company also?  What about James' father's injury - was that just a coincidence?

Did you think that Ryan was also an employee of Mr. Smith?  What about after you learned that Mr. Smith had hired Ryan's trucking company? (ref. Ch. 15, ePg. 158)  

Mr. Smith was so guarded and secretive, why did he allow or require Lucca to have her own support team (Devon)?  

Did you expect Devon and Lucca to get together or did you believe she'd wind up with Ryan?  Were you satisfied with the couples at the end?  

How did this story change your views about online message boards?

Theme Ideas

Serve beef tenderloin and wine, like the night Ryan asked Evie to move in with him. (Ch. 2, ePg. 7)
Serve smoked whiskey and/or old-fashioneds, like Mr. Rogers suggested to Ryan and Evie when he invited them over for cocktails. (Ch. 3, ePg. 17)
Serve s'mores, like Evie and Ryan did when they were in the early-dating phase. (Ch. 3, ePg. 20)
Serve "oysters Rockefeller and mini lobster rolls" like at the party Lucca Marino was sneaking through. (ePg. 45)
Serve big cinnamon rolls like Lucca took to her mom after the party caper. (Ten Years Ago, ePg. 48)
Serve fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots like Lucca and her mom wanted to grow in a garden. (Ten Years Ago, ePg. 50)  Or carrot cake as Lucca told her mom she would make her.  Carrot cake is Lucca's favorite.  (Six  Years Ago, ePg. 140)
Serve grilled steaks, like when Ryan and Evie had James and new-Lucca over. (Ch. 13, ePg. 121)  They also served grilled vegetables, "Garlic bread and a big salad" (Ch. 13, ePg. 122)  Also decorate with lighted candles.
Serve chicken parm, like Evie chose to eat when Ryan brought back a bunch of food after Evie was questioned by the police. (Ch. 18, ePg. 193)
Serve cheeseburgers and fries, including sweet potato fries, because Ryan got it for Evie from the roof top bar and Lucca ordered it with Devon at Buffalo Wild Wings. (Ch. 19, ePg. 220 and Four Years Ago, ePg. 228)
Serve vodka cranberry cocktails, like Lucca ordered from Devon when he was masquerading as a bartender. (Four Years Ago, ePg. 236)
Serve pizza, like Ryan went to get when they stayed in the hotel on the way to Atlanta. (Ch. 21, 3Pg. 262)
Serve vodka martinis, like Amy Holder drank every night at the country club. (Six Months Ago, ePg. 275)

Have a Kentucky Derby theme. (Ch. 5, ePg. 36)  Include mint juleps (with Woodford, served in silver cups with engraved initials - Ch. 7, ePg. 39) Hot Browns, "individual portions of cheese grits, and delicate tea sandwiches" (Ch. 7, ePg. 39) served on silver platters.  Invite the guests to wear hats, "the bigger, the better".  Decorate with "Barbie's horses, complete with pink saddle and bow in its mane." (Ch. 7, ePg. 39)
Host your meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings, because Devon and Lucca had a meeting there. (Four Years Ago, ePg. 228)

Decorate with perfume bottles like Ryan's mom collected and Evie pretended to collect. (Ch. 3, ePg. 19)
Decorate with, or make with your guests - origami, especially swans and other animals of all colors. (Ten Years Ago, ePg. 49 and Alias: IW-Eight Years Ago, ePg. 112)
Decorate with red roses like they put on the winning horse at the Kentucky Derby. (Ch. 8, ePg. 56)
Decorate with mismatched chairs and "those posters that combine wildlife photography ad inspirational quotes" (Eight Years Ago, ePg. 77) like when Lucca went to the office to find out more about the job.