Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

I was lucky to score an e-ARC of #TrustMe a few weeks ago. It’s coming out in August and garnering great reviews. This is mine:

trust-me-225Former journalist Mercer Hennessey is grieving the worst tragedy that could befall a wife and mother. Now a recluse in her family’s home, every morning she writes a number in the steamed-up bathroom mirror: the number of days since it happened.

One day, publishing friend Katherine persuades Mercer to write a true crime book about the sensational Baby Boston murder trial. Party girl Ashlyn Bryant stands accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter because the toddler had got in the way. Cabling is installed in Mercer’s study so she can watch the same feed news people watch without leaving her house, and she settles behind her desk, researching, writing and watching the trial. The book will be publish-ready two weeks after the verdict. By closing argument, Mercer is convinced Ashlyn is a nut case and guilty as hell.

But Ashlyn is acquitted. Katherine comes up with a new scheme to salvage the book: a tell-all, a story of redemption, as told by Ashlyn Bryant to Mercer Hennessey. That’s when it gets scary.

This book is psychological thriller at its best. Riveting. Suspenseful. A morphing reality. No physical violence, but an exploration of the shadowy canons of two women’s grasps on reality and those dark places where monsters lurk. During the trial portion of the book, the author masterfully weaves three timelines, Mercer’s present, Ashlyn’s backstory and Mercer’s backstory. By the time Mercer must rewrite the book, these three versions of reality, yours, mine and the truth, are so blended, the smallest shifts threaten Mercer’s sanity.

Writers especially will appreciate how the delicate blending of timelines is achieved by shifts from past tense to present tense, and how once the present tense is established and we are in Mercer’s mind, each turn makes us doubt what we had believed was true.

Five stars. This book should be taught in creative writing courses.

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