Ridley Jones is content with her life. "I have loved and been loved by my parents…I love my work, my friends, the place I live," she muses at the opening of BEAUTIFUL LIES. Happy with her East Village apartment, surrounded by a loving family, Ridley's only real trouble is her wayward older brother Ace, a drug addict who has been cut off from the rest of the family and who regularly disappears into the underbelly of Manhattan, reappearing only when he needs Ridley to give him money.
All of Ridley's assumptions about her comfortable life evaporate in a second, though, when she achieves her 15 minutes of fame after saving the life of a small child. Instantly, her name and photo are plastered all over the city, even throughout the country. Ridley enjoys her brief fame, until she receives an alarming letter from someone claiming she's his daughter. When Ridley later receives a 1970s newspaper clipping featuring a photo of a murdered woman who looks just like Ridley herself, she isn't sure whom to believe.
Ridley's questions to her parents are met with secrecy and defensiveness. Is it possible that Ridley's entire existence has been nothing but a series of beautiful lies? Soon enough, she is thrust into a full-blown mystery that may involve her whole family, her ex-fiance, and even the sexy new upstairs neighbor. On the run, unsure of whom she can trust, Ridley must use all her resources to delve into a past she never knew or even imagined.
Readers will devour Lisa Unger's terrific debut work of fiction. An emotionally charged suspense novel with a likable heroine, this sexy thriller rockets like a racecar through the streets of Manhattan. New York City is actually a vibrant character in its own right, which uses real neighborhood locales to enhance its air of authenticity. The narrative's tone, with its second-person addresses to the reader and some philosophical musings that occasionally interrupt the action, may seem intrusive to some readers. The combination of truly enthralling plotting and emotional self-discovery, though, will draw in even the most reluctant readers, who certainly will label Unger as a new suspense author to watch.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 22, 2010