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Beautiful Lies (Ridley Jones Series #1)

Beautiful Lies (Ridley Jones Series #1)

3.8 820
by Lisa Unger

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If Ridley Jones had slept ten minutes later or had taken the subway instead of waiting for a cab, she would still be living the beautiful lie she used to call her life. She would still be the privileged daughter of a doting father and a loving mother. Her life would still be perfect -- with only the tiny cracks of an angry junkie for a brother and a charming drunk


If Ridley Jones had slept ten minutes later or had taken the subway instead of waiting for a cab, she would still be living the beautiful lie she used to call her life. She would still be the privileged daughter of a doting father and a loving mother. Her life would still be perfect -- with only the tiny cracks of an angry junkie for a brother and a charming drunk with shady underworld connections for an uncle to mar the otherwise flawless whole.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, those inconsequential decisions lead her to perform a good deed that puts her in the right place at the right time to unleash a chain of events that brings a mysterious package to her door -- a package which informs her that her entire world is a lie.

Suddenly forced to question everything she knows about herself and her family, Ridley wanders into dark territory she never knew existed, where everyone in her life seems like a stranger. She has no idea who’s on her side and who has something to hide -- even, and maybe especially, her new lover, Jake, who appears to have secrets of his own.

Sexy and fast-paced, Beautiful Lies is a true literary thriller with one of the freshest voices and heroines to arrive in years. Lisa Unger takes us on a breathtaking ride in which every choice Ridley makes creates a whirlwind of consequences that are impossible to imagine . . . .

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
When a photographer catches freelance writer Ridley Jones saving a toddler from being struck by a speeding van on a New York City street, she basks in her sudden celebrity. But that one heroic act will set in motion a series of events that will shake her world to its very foundations and put her life in jeopardy…

After she's featured in newspapers and television newscasts all over the city, Ridley's life is turned upside down when she finds a manila envelope on the doorstep of her East Village apartment that contains the faded picture of a man, woman, and baby girl. The accompanying note asks: "Are you my daughter?" When Ridley confronts her parents -- a highly successful doctor and his prim wife -- they reassure her that the package is from some crazy person; but then she meets a handsome sculptor on a similar quest to unlock the secrets of his own murky past, and the two begin to slowly uncover a far-reaching conspiracy involving some of the city's most powerful politicians, humanitarians -- and criminals.

Beautiful Lies is essentially the story of a woman's attempt to understand and piece together the countless -- and mind-boggling -- untruths that once made up the foundation of her seemingly idyllic life. Comparable to psychological thrillers like Jeff Abbott's Panic and Dean Koontz's Velocity, Unger's narrative will blow readers away with its unadulterated intimacy and surprising intensity. Featuring realistically drawn and powerfully compelling characters, a plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, and an ending that is as explosive as it is jaw-dropping, Beautiful Lies is a blockbuster of a debut not to be missed. Highly recommended. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Unger's well-crafted, suspenseful debut fiction, in which a bright, resourceful young woman finds her everyday world turned upside down in true Harlan Coben-thriller fashion, is done no favors by this off-kilter audio rendition. The main problem is that reader Lamia sounds a decade younger than the novel's narrator, Ridley Jones. As the book's heroine drifts into and out of jeopardy, fearlessly searching for the truth about her birth and parentage while defying powerful adversaries determined to keep a particularly evil secret, the mood should be noir. Lamia's sound is strictly YA, more girly than gritty. Her performance isn't one note; she makes all the right emotional choices. But she is not vocally versatile enough to do justice to the novel's cast of characters. Asking her to convey the audio image of a rotund, sinister lawyer issuing dire threats, to take one example, is a little like hiring Paris Hilton to stand in for Orson Welles. Not her fault, exactly, if she falls short of the mark. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 2). (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
For her efforts, Good Samaritan Ridley Jones receives a mystifying package that forces her to rethink her whole life-and then flee it. A big debut; lots of foreign rights have been sold, and there's a ten-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A cozy, personable debut about a young New York City journalist who inadvertently begins to unravel her own identity. Ridley Jones's 15 minutes of fame occur when she leaves her East Village apartment one morning to catch a cab and saves a toddler from being hit by a van. Ridley's face is plastered over the news for days, thrilling her New Jersey parents and former fiance Zack, whom she dumped in order to become her own person. Ridley's privacy is further compromised when she receives notes from someone claiming to be her long-lost daughter. Simultaneously, an attractive, rather nosy new neighbor in her building, Jake, turns out to be a PI with all kinds of scary baggage and a bullet scar on his shoulder. He helps connect Ridley's mysterious messages to the case of a missing girl, Jessie Stone, who disappeared in 1972 after the murder of her mother (probably by her boyfriend). Unger effectively builds suspicions around the men in Ridley's life: unknown, duplicitous Jake, who seems to follow her everywhere; obtuse and overprotective Zack, a pediatrician like her father; bitter, damaged older brother Ace, an itinerant drug user estranged from the family who drops hints of their parents' perfidy without evidence; and even Ridley's beloved, dead Uncle Max, who overcame an abusive childhood to make his fortune in real estate and establish a humanitarian agency that shelters mothers with children frightened for their safety. Ridley's parents also come under her scrutiny, since her father served as pediatrician to Jessie as well as to other missing children. The story is told from the perspective of Ridley, who is proud and occasionally spooked to live on her own in the big city. Cleverlyhandled suspense for chick-lit readers. $150,000 ad/promo
From the Publisher
“A tightly written thriller…. The action is depicted with satisfying breathlessness.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Suspenseful, sensitive, sexy, subtle.” —Lee Child

“A high-wire balance of tension and resolution.” —The Baltimore Sun

“This mystery's surprising twists will make your jaw drop.” —Cosmopolitan

“Perfect pitch, characters we can recognize as versions of ourselves. . . . Lip-smacking good.” —Chicago Tribune

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Ridley Jones Series , #1
Product dimensions:
6.76(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.33(d)

Read an Excerpt

Beautiful Lies

A Novel
By Lisa Unger

Shaye Areheart Books

Copyright © 2006 Lisa Unger
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-307-33668-9

Chapter One

It's dark in that awful way that allows you to make out objects but not the black spaces behind them. My breathing comes ragged from exertion and fear. The only person I trust in the world lies on the floor beside me. I lean into him and hear that he's still breathing but it's shallow and hard won. He's hurt, I know. But I can't see how badly. I whisper his name in his ear but he doesn't respond. I feel his body but there's no blood that I can tell. The sound of his body hitting the floor minutes before was the worst thing I've ever heard.

I feel the floor around him, looking for his gun. After a few seconds I feel the cool metal beneath my fingertips and I almost weep with relief. But there's no time for that now.

I can hear the rain falling outside the burned-out building, its loud, heavy drops smacking on canvas. It's falling inside, too, trickling in through gaping holes in the roof down through floors of rotted wood and broken staircases. He moves and issues a low groan. I hear him say my name and I lean in close to him again.

"It's okay. We're going to be okay," I tell him, even though I don't have any reason to believe this is true. Somewhere outside or up above us a man I thought I loved, along with other men whom I couldn't identify,are trying to kill us, to protect an awful truth that I've discovered. I am hurt myself, in so much pain that I might pass out if I didn't know it meant dying here in this condemned building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There's something embedded in my right thigh. It's possibly a bullet, or a large spike of wood, or maybe a nail. It's so dark I can just barely see the large hole in my jeans, and the denim is black with my blood. I'm dizzy, the world tilting, but I'm holding on.

I hear them up above us now, see the beams of their flashlights crossing in the dark through the holes in the floors. I try to control my breathing, which to my own ears sounds as loud as an oncoming train. I hear one of the men say to the others, "I think they fell through. They're on the bottom." There was no answer but I can hear them making their way down over creaking wood.

He stirs. "They're coming," he says, his voice little more than a rasp. "Get out of here, Ridley."

I don't answer him. We both know I'm not leaving. I pull at him and he tries to get up, but the pain registers on his face louder than the scream I know he suppressed to protect us for a few minutes more. If we're not walking out of here together, we're not walking out at all. I drag him, even though I know I shouldn't be moving him, over behind an old moldy couch that lies on its back by the wall. It's not far but I can see his face white and gritted in terrible pain. As I move him, he loses consciousness again and in an instant feels fifty pounds heavier. But I've seen all four of his limbs move and that's something. I realize that I'm praying as I pull him, my leg on fire, my strength waning. Please God, please God, please God, over and over again like a mantra.

The way the couch is lying, it forms a crawl space against the wall just big enough for the two of us. I pull him in there and lie on my belly beside him. I pull an old crate over toward the edge of the couch and look through the wooden slats. They're closer now and I'm sure they've heard us because they've stopped talking and turned their flashlights off. I hold the gun in both hands and wait. I've never fired a gun before and I don't know how many bullets are left in this one. I think we're going to die here.

"Ridley, please, don't do this." The voice echoes in the dark and comes from up above me. "We can work this out."

I don't answer. I know it's a trick. Nothing about this can be worked out now; we're all too far gone. There have been plenty of chances to close my eyes and go back to the sleep of my life as it was, but I haven't taken any of them. Do I wish now that I had? It's hard to answer that question, as the wraiths move closer.

"Six," he whispers.


"You have six bullets left."


Excerpted from Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Unger. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Lisa Unger was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but grew up in Holland and England. A graduate of The New School for Social Research, Unger spent many years living and working in New York City. In 2000, she left a career in publicity to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Florida with her husband and daughter.

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Beautiful Lies 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 820 reviews.
HEDI09 More than 1 year ago
BEAUTIFUL LIES is an exciting, well-constructed thriller that I read in my book club. We all loved it from the beginning. I loved the bits of philosophy throughout and when the main protagonist speaks to the reader; so different! The fascinating storyline held our interest with the multiple twists and turns and the plot was interesting and not predictable. This isn't a dull, cookie cutter formula read, but a unique, intriguing mystery that transcends genre! Others I've read that affected me and that transcend genre are EXPLOSION IN PARIS, A DOG'S PURPOSE, CRACKED HEARTS, CUTTING FOR STONE...
rheeson More than 1 year ago
Start reading 'Beautiful Lies' and the world fades into the background. You become totally absorbed in the story. It is as if you are right there, IN the book with Ridley, can almost see what she is seeing, feel what she is feeling. Never have I read a novel so totally engrossing I couldn't stop reading it! I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at a book signing a while back, and again recently at the release of her new novel, "Fragile". She is a warm and friendly person who makes you feel as if you have known her forever. Read her books, then plan to attend a book signing at some point. You WILL be glad you did!
Colleen-Rae More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Beautiful Lies very much. Lisa Unger, the author, knows how to create characters that come alive on the page, rachet up the suspense to a edge-of-chair degree, and carry a complicated plot to resolution. Ridley Jones gets herself in such dire circumstances, yet stays true to her questioning of her life, her goals, and is able to face the truths that are revealed about her loved ones. In fact, I was so entranced by Beautiful Lies, I went back to Barnes and Noble and purchased the sequel, Sliver of Truth. It too, was spellbinding, perhaps not quite as suspenseful as Beautiful Lies, because the reader was already familiar with the past action, but certainly demanded my attention to the very end. A wonderfu pair of books about an endearing and courageous protagonist.
nookaliciousPB More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to everyone! One of the better mysteries out there. I am only sad that B&N raised the price and took it off of lend me status.
ninahb More than 1 year ago
This was one of the few books that I have read in a very long time that I couldnt put down. It grabs you right from the start continues throughout the book and just when you think you know who dunnit wrong... I say order it. Now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent read. I couldn't wait to sit back down and find out what was happening to Ridley next. The author did a great job unrolling the plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent read, once I started I just hated putting it down! I devoured this book in 2 days. Plenty of twist & turns without going overboard. I loved this book & I'm sure you will too! Looking forward to more from this talented author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful lies is a great book! Very suspensful. You wont wanna put it down! Love, sex, suspense, mystery in one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read! Great story line
Mrs_Humpy More than 1 year ago
I love Lisa Unger and she has never disappointed me! This book held me from the first to the last page!
Pana1 More than 1 year ago
It kept getting better and better with each page. I could not stop reading it. I even missed some subway train stops because I was so engrossed in it.
joanie830 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I love the heroine in this book. She has received life-changing information about her life that puts her immediately into harm's way. The book kept moving the whole time. I couldn't put it down! I can't wait to read Lisa Unger's next book with this character.
LiL-mama-reader More than 1 year ago
This book was great, story kept you wanting more, a litte romance but not too much to make you blush. I did figure it out before the end but still really enjoyed reading it.
MARI3889 More than 1 year ago
ReadGourmet More than 1 year ago
Great storyline and terrific style. Lisa Unger has a way with words. My Nook versiin looks like it's in color from all the highlighting!
Ian_Mule More than 1 year ago
Was reading all night to finish this...a great read!
redtxdiva More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down! Had to read the next one!
love_derek02 More than 1 year ago
this book was really good. My third by Lisa Unger, and she does not disappoint. Had a very hard time putting it down from start to finish.
Scarlettran40 More than 1 year ago
Very good book...series!
Reader1SD More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I could not put it down.
LaShanda Burden More than 1 year ago
great read! Mrs. Unger's talented writing holds your focus and your breathing.
aliciab_14 More than 1 year ago
This book kept me wanting more. I couldn't put it down and when I was finished reading it I was hungry for more. I loved the character Ridley Jones she was exciting and daring and easy to relate to. The writer keeps it short and sweet and keeps you in suspense throughout. Loved it!!!!!
Clarkie08 More than 1 year ago
great book i would recommened to freinds
sadeev More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book. I have read alot of suspense/thrillers and this was the first one that I read of Lisa Unger's and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It kept you interested - it wasn't all about blood and guts which was good.
Veegeez More than 1 year ago
This book kept me excited throughout the entire story. I had a difficult time putting it down. It was very thrilling and kept me on the edge of my seat.