Never Tell a Lieby Hallie Ephron
It all started with the yard sale . . .
Eight months pregnant and nervous about the future, Ivy Rose doesn't recognize the woman approaching her and husband David as they attempt to rid themselves of the decades-worth of junk cluttering up their suburban home. The woman says she's Melinda White—their former high school classmate, now pregnant… See more details below
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It all started with the yard sale . . .
Eight months pregnant and nervous about the future, Ivy Rose doesn't recognize the woman approaching her and husband David as they attempt to rid themselves of the decades-worth of junk cluttering up their suburban home. The woman says she's Melinda White—their former high school classmate, now pregnant also—and asks if she might revisit the old Victorian house she recalls playing in as a child. David takes her inside. But Melinda never comes out.
With her husband a suspect in the bizarre disappearance and probable murder of the near-stranger he claims not to remember, Ivy must now dive into a deadly whirlpool of deceit, betrayal, and terrifying alternate histories in pursuit of a shocking truth—a truth that could destroy everything . . .
Like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, this realistic novel begins in an everyday suburban situation and rapidly escalates into fast-breaking terror and uncharted suspense.
A yard sale at an old Victorian house, hosted by a young couple, the wife eight months pregnant with their first child. Among the eager bargain hunters is a barely recognized former classmate of these happily married high school sweethearts. This aggressive, nervous woman, also expecting, talks her way into the aging mansion. She is never seen again. Suspicion begins to slip around the necks of the young couple; when incriminating evidence is found, the husband is arrested for murder. The wife, left to investigate on her own, begins to realize that she scarcely knows the man she married. What she doesn't yet know is that the surprises have just begun….
An innocent yard sale jump-starts this stunning stand-alone thriller from Ephron, author of Amnesia and four other mysteries written with Donald Davidoff under the name G.H. Ephron (and one of the Ephron writing sisters), as well as two nonfiction books. Ivy and David Rose, happily married high school sweethearts, are trying to clear out the junk the previous owner left in their glorious Victorian in Brush Hills, Mass., before the birth of their first child. Among the bargain hunters is Melinda White, a high school classmate who's also pregnant. Considered an oddball in school, Melinda worries about "more bad luck" after nearly knocking over a large mirror. When Melinda disappears and no one can remember seeing her leave the sale, the evidence suggests the couple murdered her. Ephron doesn't miss a searing beat as she plunges the Roses into an abyss of suspicion. A surprise toward the end provides the perfect twist to this deliciously creepy tale of obsession. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
High school sweethearts Ivy and David are expecting their first child after years of trying, they're renovating a Victorian house, and David's business has finally become successful. This debut by the mystery reviewer for the Boston Globe and author of Writing and Selling Your Mystery opens with Ivy and David having a yard sale to get rid of things the previous owner left behind. During the sale, a woman who went to school with them years ago arrives unexpectedly and begins acting rather strangely toward the couple. When this woman goes missing and her car is found nearby with the newspaper ad for their sale circled, the police begin to suspect that Ivy and David are somehow involved. As the evidence mounts and clues are uncovered, David is charged with murder, and Ivy must find the truth. Although fans of the suspense genre won't be surprised by the plot twists here, this is an entertaining read with a strong ending and a great lead character in Ivy. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ9/1/08.]
Ephron (1001 Books for Every Mood, 2008, etc.) returns with the story of a Massachusetts couple who become suspects when an acquaintance disappears after attending their yard sale.
In love since high school, Ivy and David Rose are now in their early 30s and expecting their first child. When they hold a yard sale, Melinda White, a former classmate Ivy does not recognize and barely remembers as an unpopular geek, shows up glamorously transformed and exactly as pregnant as Ivy. Melinda buys a green glass knickknack and talks incessantly to Ivy until David offers to give her a tour of the Roses' Victorian house in which Melinda says she played as a child. After the yard sale, Ivy cuts her foot on a shard of green glass in the upstairs hall. That night she notices a woman who looks like her, only in sunglasses, going through an old trunk left out on the street. Three days later Melinda is declared missing. Soon detectives question Ivy and David. The shirt Melinda was wearing at the yard sale turns up in the trunk, bloody. A knife with the same blood shows up in David's truck. And then there's David's message on Melinda's answering machine. With so much blatant evidence appearing but no body, it is obvious to Ivy and David, if not to the doltish detective, that someone is trying to frame them. Readers don't need to ask ‘But who?' since Ivy's friend Jody remembers Melinda's obsession with Ivy and David. The not terribly original twist is that Melinda really was treated badly in high school. Although Ivy was not an active participant in the meaner episodes, she never came to Melinda's defense. And as Melinda's deranged revenge plot plays out, Ivy faces uncomfortable questions aboutDavid's role in Melinda's unhappy adolescence.
Mild creepiness is overly scripted with workmanlike prose into a blend of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and a humorless Monk.
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Read an Excerpt
Never Tell a Lie LP
A Novel of Suspense
By Hallie Ephron
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Saturday, November 1
Rain or shine, that's what Ivy Rose had put in the yard-sale ad. What they'd gotten was a metallic gray sky and gusty winds. But the typical, contrary New England fall weather hadn't discouraged this crowd.
David moved aside the sawhorse that blocked the driveway, and buyers surged in. It seemed to Ivy that their Victorian ark tolerated the invasion the way a great white whale might float to the surface and permit birds to pick parasites off its back.
For three years Ivy had been oblivious to the dusty piles of junk left behind by elderly Paul Vlaskovic, the previous owner, a cadaverous fellow whom David referred to as Vlad. The clutter that filled their attic and basement might as well have existed in a parallel universe. Then, as sudden as a spring thunderstorm, the urge to expel what wasn't theirs had risen up in her until she could no longer stand it. Out! David had had the good grace, or maybe it was his instinct for self-preservation, not to blame it on hormones.
Ivy felt the baby's firm kick—no more moth-wing flutter. Hello there, Sprout. She rested her palms on her belly, for the moment solid as a rock. With just three weeks to go until she either gave birth or exploded, Ivy was supposed to be havingcontractions. Braxton Hicks. False labor. The revving of an engine, not quite juiced up enough to turn over.
She and David had reached the obsessing-about-a-name stage, and she wondered how many other soon-to-be parents had tossed around the name Braxton.
Viable, viable, viable. The word whispered itself over and over in her head. She'd married at twenty-four, and then it had taken five years to conceive. Three times she'd miscarried—the last time at twenty weeks, just when she'd thought it was safe to stop holding her breath.
David came up alongside her and put his arm around where she'd once had a waist. A fully pregnant belly was pretty astonishing, right up there with a prizewinning Hubbard squash.
"Hey, Stretch"—the nickname had taken on an entirely new connotation in these final months—"looks like we have ignition. Quite a crowd," he said. She shivered with pleasure as he pushed her hair to one side and nuzzled her neck.
Ivy loved the way David gave off the aroma of rich, loamy soil, the way his thatch of auburn hair seemed to go in twelve directions at once, and most of all the way his smile took over his face and crinkled his eyes. The broken nose he'd gotten playing college football, after surviving unscathed for two years as quarterback in high school, gave his sweet face character.
She was more what people called "interesting-looking"—dark soulful eyes, too long in the nose, and a mouth that was a bit too generous to be considered pretty. Most days she paid little attention to her looks. She rolled out of bed, brushed her teeth, ran a comb through long, thick, chestnut-colored hair, and got on with it.
"They think that because we have this great old house, we have great old stuff," Ivy said.
David twiddled an invisible cigar and Groucho Marxed his eyebrows at a pair of black telephones with rotary dials. "Little do they know . . ."
Ivy waved at a fellow yard-sale junkie, Ralph of the battered black Ford pickup, who was crouched over a box of electrical fixtures. Beside him, amid the tumult, stood Corinne Bindel, their elderly next-door neighbor, her bouffant too platinum and puffy to be real. Her arms were folded across the front of her brown tweed coat. The pained expression on her face said she couldn't imagine why anyone would pay a nickel for any of this junk.
"What do you say?" David asked. "After the dust settles, we set up some of the baby things?"
"Not yet," Ivy said. She rubbed the cobalt blue stone set in the hand-shaped silver good-luck charm that hung from a chain around her neck. The talisman had once been her grandmother's. She knew that it was silly superstition, but she wanted all of the baby things tucked away in the spare room until the baby arrived and had had each of her fingers and toes counted and kissed.
"Excuse me?" said a woman who peered at Ivy from under the brim of a Red Sox cap. She held a lime green Depression glass swan-shaped dish that had been in a box of wax fruit that mice had gotten to.
"You can have that for fifteen," Ivy said. "Not a chip or crack on it."
"Ivy?" The woman with cinnamon curls, streaked silvery blond, had a mildly startled look. "Don't remember me, do you?"
"I . . ." Ivy hesitated. There was something familiar about this woman who wore a cotton maternity top, patterned in blue cornflowers and yellow black-eyed Susans. Her hand, the nails polished pink and perfectly sculpted, rested on her own belly. Like Ivy, she was voluminously pregnant.
"Mindy White," the woman said. "Melinda back then."
Melinda White—the name conjured the memory of a chubby girl from elementary school. Frizzy brown hair, glasses, and a pasty complexion. It was hard to believe that this was the same person.
"Of course I remember you. Wow, don't you look great! And congratulations. Your first?" Ivy asked.
Melinda nodded and took a step closer. She smiled. Her once-crooked teeth were now straight and perfect. "Isn't this your first, too?"
Ivy avoided her probing look.
"I'm due Thanksgiving," Melinda said. "How 'bout you?"
"December," Ivy said. In fact, she was expecting a Thanksgiving baby, too. But Ivy had told everyone, even her best friend, Jody, that her due date was two weeks later. As the end approached, it would be enough to deal with just her and David agonizing over when she was going to go into labor and whether something would go wrong this time.
Melinda tilted her head and considered Ivy. "Happy marriage. Baby due any minute. You guys are so lucky. I mean, what more could you ask for?"
Excerpted from Never Tell a Lie LP by Hallie Ephron Copyright © 2009 by Hallie Ephron. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
An award-winning mystery reviewer, Hallie Ephron is the author of Never Tell a Lie (a Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist that was also made into the Lifetime Movie Network film And Baby Will Fall) and the Edgar and Anthony Award-nominated Writing and Selling Your Mystery. Ephron lives near Boston.
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