Review

Never Tell a Lie

by Hallie Ephron

In my opinion, no possible good can come from attending a high
school reunion. Old wounds are opened. Old passions are aroused.
Old memories are revived. The person around whom the social scene
dipped and swirled is overweight and living in a trailer park,
while the guy you studiously ignored who sat behind you in math
class is now an East Coast CEO with so much money that he
doesn’t even notice the economy has temporarily tanked. High
school is, and should be, so far back in the rearview mirror that
you can’t see it.

And so we begin with but one of the reasons why I loved, and
raced through, NEVER TELL A LIE, Hallie Ephron’s debut novel.
Ivy and David Rose are at the center of the tale. They both have
good (even great) jobs, are deeply in love with each other and,
most importantly, have a baby on the way. David, we learn, is what
Ivy’s grandmother referred to as “a keeper,” one
of those guys who manages to cater to his pregnant wife’s
every whim, be it massaging her feet or hauling the vacuum cleaner
up several flights of stairs before daybreak when she is possessed
with a sudden urge to clean. This domestic bliss is suddenly
shattered when they decide to hold a yard sale to remove the
clutter from their house and make room for their
very-soon-to-be-born child.

This otherwise successful event becomes a high school reunion
microcosm by an incident of apparent happenstance that slowly turns
into a disaster. Melinda White, a wallflower who attended high
school with Ivy and David, shows up at the yard sale, in a
close-to-term stage of pregnancy herself. They haven’t seen
her in over a decade, and in any event, she was not in their social
circle back then. Melinda assumes an air of almost inappropriate
familiarity with both of them, even to the point of cajoling a tour
of their home conducted by David.

It is here where one would expect NEVER TELL A LIE to drift into
extremely interesting but familiar territory, wherein Melinda
begins to slowly but surely insinuate herself into Ivy and
David’s lives with diabolical purposes in mind. That
isn’t what happens. Instead, Melinda disappears. No one,
including David, even sees her leave the house. Blanchard, the
police detective investigating the disappearance, traces her last
known sighting to the Roses’ yard sale and finds her bloodied
blouse on the scene. What appears to be a murder weapon is found in
David’s possession; the foot-massaging husband who is too
good to be true may be neither. And Blanchard, who is a combination
of Columbo, Inspector Morse and a rabid pit bull in heat, keeps
uncovering evidence that leads him, and ultimately Ivy, to believe
that David might know more about Melinda’s disappearance than
what he admits. Maybe, just maybe, David does.

Ephron’s in-the-pocket pacing is just perfect. This is a
story that will have you falling off the edge of your seat as you
encounter surprise after surprise, leading up to not one but two
bombshell revelations. The ending is satisfying and still has just
enough ambiguity to keep you thinking and wondering after the tale
is told.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 12, 2011

Never Tell a Lie
by Hallie Ephron

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061567167
  • ISBN-13: 9780061567162