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Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2)

Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2)

3.9 109
by Lisa Unger

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The highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Lies.

Charged with relentless intensity and kinetic action, and playing out with unnerving suspense on the streets of New York and London, Sliver of Truth delves deep into the shadowy world of Ridley Jones, a terrified but determined young woman at once hunting down a ghost


The highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Lies.

Charged with relentless intensity and kinetic action, and playing out with unnerving suspense on the streets of New York and London, Sliver of Truth delves deep into the shadowy world of Ridley Jones, a terrified but determined young woman at once hunting down a ghost from her past and running for her life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Double feints and triple suspense plays . . . make Sliver of Truth compulsive reading.”
New York Daily News
Publishers Weekly

Ridley Jones thought her faux uncle Max (who was actually her father) was long dead. But apparently, no one else did; not the FBI, the Armenian mob, the woman who identified Max's corpse, or Jones's boyfriend, Jake. Each want Max for different reasons, and Jones becomes the tool with which they hope to bring him out into the open. In an effort to figure everything out, Jones recruits contacts, but it seems every time she does, they end up dead. Unger's second novel featuring Jones packs a lot of action, humor and drama. Jenna Lamia improves these elements in this first-person novel with a light, smooth voice that fits with Jones personality. Within the first hour, Lamia's soft tone reverberates with attitude or sincerity depending on the context, while her ability to inject personality into the narrative aspects of the story makes it all the more enjoyable. She tackles accents, gender differentials and sarcasm with great ease, leaving listeners to lose themselves in Unger's tale of intrigue. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 23). (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Freelance journalist Ridley Jones stops by the photo lab to pick up her pictures and is taken in for questioning by FBI agents on her way home. It seems that a mysterious figure is hovering in the background in several of her photos, and Special Agent Dylan Grace believes that the figure is Ridley's Uncle Max, whom she thought was dead. In Unger's follow-up to Beautiful Lies, Ridley must face the fact that her beloved uncle may not only be alive but that he wasn't the man she believed him to be. The FBI wants her to lead its agents to him, but she doesn't completely trust anyone now, including her boyfriend, Jake, who informs her that Max was part of a vicious crime ring. Determined to discover the truth in the web of lies surrounding her, Ridley decides to do some investigating on her own and encounters danger and deception at every turn. A fast-paced story that readers will find difficult to put down; recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/06.]-Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More identity crisis for New York City journalist Ridley Jones in this murky follow-up to Unger's debut (Beautiful Lies, 2006). Just when she thought she'd figured out who her real father is, single working girl Ridley is confronted with fresh evidence that her dead Uncle Max Smiley, revealed a year ago (and in Unger's previous book) to be her biological father, might in fact still be alive, and responsible for a series of ghastly assaults on women. Max, an abused child himself, was a self-made real-estate developer and the shadowy head of the Project Rescue organization, which ostensibly saved at-risk children from abusive parents, but in some cases actually abducted children and placed them in foster homes. Ridley's adoptive parents, Ben and Grace Jones, were also involved in Project Rescue, and adopted Ridley as a child. At this point in her life, Ridley is still picking up the pieces of her identity, having been involved in the last year with Jake, a former Project Rescue baby who is still obsessed with Max's whereabouts. Meanwhile, Ridley is being trailed by FBI Special Agent Dylan Grace, who ties her to the recent disappearance of a New York Times journalist, Myra Lyall. In a development that turns these characters into paranoid, damaged people, it's revealed that Agent Grace's mother happened to have been a spy and one of Max's victims. And with everyone looking for Max, possibly at the center of a sex slave trade, the trail leads naturally to Ridley, the beloved daughter he will surely reveal himself to at the novel's 11th hour. Ridley is a character still in search of herself, and this effort offers appealing moments of first-person honesty, but could lose readers unfamiliar withUnger's first.

Product Details

Publication date:
Ridley Jones Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt


I'm running but I can't run much farther. The pain in my side already has me limping; there's fire in my lungs. I can't hear his footfalls. But I know he's not far away. I know now that he's been right beside me all my life in one way or another. I'm the light; he's the shadow. We've coexisted without ever meeting. If I'd been a good girl, the girl I was raised to be, I never would have known him. But it's too late for regrets.

I'm on Hart Island in the Bronx, a place known as Potter's Field. It's the city cemetery for the unknown and indigent--a grim and frightening place. How we've all wound up here is a long story, but I know the story will end here--maybe just for some, maybe for all of us. A tall abandoned building that seems to sag upon itself looms ahead of me. It's a darker night than I have ever known, in more ways than one. The sliver of moon is hidden behind a thick cloud cover. It's hard to see but I watch as he disappears through a door that hangs crooked on its hinges. I follow.

"Ridley!" The call comes from behind me. But I don't answer. I just keep moving until I am standing at the entrance to the building. I hesitate there, looking at the crooked, sighing structure and wondering if it's not too late to turn around.

Then I see him, up ahead of me. I call out but he doesn't answer me, just turns and slowly starts to move away. I follow. If I valued my life and my sanity, I'd let him get away and hope he did the same for me. We could go back to the way things have been. He dwelling in a world I never even knew existed, me going about my very ordinary life, writing magazine articles, seeing movies, having drinks with friends.

Fear and rage duke it out in my chest. Hatred has a taste and a texture; it burns like bile in my throat. For a moment, I hear the voice of someone I loved: Ridley, you can release the hatred and walk away. It's nothing more than a single choice. We can both do it. We don't need all the answers to live our lives. It doesn't have to be like this. A few minutes later, he was gone.

I know now that those words were lies. Hatred doesn't release. Walking away is not one of my choices. Maybe it never was. Maybe I've been in the path of this freight train all my life, lashed to the tracks, too weak, too foolish, too stubborn to even try to save myself.

As I enter the building, I think I might hear the rumble of boat engines. I feel a distant flutter of hope and wonder if help is coming. I hear my name again and look behind me to see a man who has become my only friend moving unsteadily toward me. He is injured and I know it will take him a while to reach me. I think for a second that I should go to him, help him. But inside I hear movement and the groaning of an unstable structure. My breathing comes shallow and quick. I step deeper inside.

"Stop running, you coward!" I yell into the huge darkness. My voice resonates in the deserted space. "Let me see your face."

My voice bounces off the surfaces around me again. I don't sound scared and heartbroken, but I am. I sound strong and sure. I take the gun from the waist of my jeans. The metal is warm from my skin. In my hand, it feels solid and righteous. This is the second time in my life I've held a gun with the intent to use it. I don't like it any better than the first time, but I'm more confident now, know that I can fire if pressed.

He steps out from the shadows, seems to move silently, to glide like the ghost that he is. I take a step toward him and then stop, raise my gun. I still can't see his face. A milky light has started to shine through the gaping holes in the ceiling as the moon moves through a break in the cloud cover. Shapes emerge in the darkness. He starts moving toward me slowly. I stand my ground but the gun starts shaking in my hand.

"Ridley, don't do it. You'll never be able to live with it."

The voice comes from behind me and I spin around to see someone I didn't expect to see again.

"This is none of your business," I yell, and turn back to the man I've been chasing.

"Ridley, don't be stupid. Put that gun down." This voice behind me sounds desperate, cracks with emotion. "You know I can't let you kill him."

My heart rate responds to the fear in his voice. What am I doing? Adrenaline is making my mouth dry, the back of my neck tingle. I can't fire but I can't lower the gun, either. I have the urge to scream in my fear and anger, my frustration and confusion, but it all lodges in my throat.

When he's finally close enough to see, I gaze upon his face. And he's someone I don't recognize at all. I draw in a gasp as a wide, cruel smile spreads across his face. And then I get it. He is the man they say he is.

"Oh, God," I say, lowering my gun. "Oh, no."


I bet you thought you'd heard the end of me. You might have at least hoped that I'd had my fill of drama for one lifetime and that the road ahead of me would not hold any more surprises, that things would go pretty smoothly from now on. Believe me, I thought so, too. We were both wrong.

About a year ago, a series of mundane events and ordinary decisions led my life to connect with the life of a toddler by the name of Justin Wheeler. I happened to be standing across the street from him on a cool autumn morning as he wandered into the path of an oncoming van. In an unthinking moment, I leapt out into the street, grabbed him, and dove us both out of the way of the vehicle that certainly would have killed him . . . and maybe me if I'd been thirty seconds earlier or later arriving on the scene. Still, that might have been the end of it, a heroic deed remembered only by Justin Wheeler, his family, and me, except for the fact that a Post photographer standing on the corner got the whole thing on film. That photograph (a pretty amazing action shot, if I do say so myself) led to another series of events that would force me to question virtually everything about my former perfect life and ultimately cause it to unravel in the most horrible ways.

The funny thing was, even after my life had dissolved around me, even after everything I thought defined me had turned out to be a lie, I found that I was still me. I still had the strength to move forward into the unknown. And that was a pretty cool thing to learn about myself.

My life may have looked as if it had been on the business end of a wrecking ball, but Ridley Jones still emerged from the remains. And though there were times when I didn't think it was possible, my life settled back into a somewhat normal rhythm. For a while, anyway.

If you don't know what happened to me and how it all turned out, you could go back now and find out before you move ahead. I'm not saying the things that follow won't make any sense to you or that you won't get anything out of the experience of joining me on this next chapter of my vida loca. What I'm saying is that it's kind of like sleeping with someone before you know her name. But maybe you like it like that. Maybe you want to come along and figure things out as we go, like any new relationship, I guess. Either way, the choice is yours. The choice is always yours.

Well, I'll get to it, then.

I'm the last person in the world without a digital camera. I don't like them; they seem too fragile. As if getting caught in the rain or clumsily pushing the wrong button could erase some of your memories. I have a 35-millimeter Minolta that I've been using since college. I take my rolls of film and then drop them off at the same photo lab on Second Avenue I've been using for years.

I had a friend who thought that there was something inherently wrong with picture taking. Memory, he said, was magical for its subjectivity. Photographs were crude and the direct result of a desire to control, to hold on to moments that should be released like each breath that we take. Maybe he was right. We're not friends anymore and I have no pictures of him, just this memory that resurfaces every time I go to pick up photographs. And then I think about how he liked to sing and play the guitar after we made love (and how he was really terrible at it--the guitar playing, the singing, and the lovemaking, for that matter) but that the sight of Washington Square Park outside his windows always seemed so romantic that I put up with the rest for longer than I might have otherwise. My memories of him are organic and three-dimensional, pictures that exist only for me; there's something nice about that after all.

So I was thinking about this as I pushed through the door of the F-Stop to pick up some photos that were waiting for me. A desk clerk I'd never seen before looked at me with practiced indifference from beneath a chaos of dyed black hair and twin swaths of eyeliner.

"Help you?" he said sullenly, placing a paperback binding up on the surface in front of him. I saw the flash of a tongue piercing when he spoke.

"I'm picking up photographs. Last name Jones."

He gave me a kind of weird look, as if he thought it was a name I'd made up. (A note about New York City: Here, if you leave a plain or common name, people treat you with suspicion. Meanwhile, if your name would sound bizarre or made up anywhere else in the world--for example, Ruby Decal X or Geronimo--it wouldn't even raise an eyebrow in the East Village.)

The clerk disappeared behind a dividing wall and I thought I heard voices as I glanced around at some black-and-white art shots on the wall. After a short time, he returned with three fat envelopes and lay them on the desk between us. He didn't say anything as he rang up the sale. I paid him in cash, and he slid the envelopes into a plastic bag.

"Thank you," I said, taking the bag from his hand.

He sat down without another word and returned to his book. For some reason, I turned around at the door and caught him staring at me strangely just before he averted his eyes.

I paused on the street corner at Second Avenue and Eighth Street. My intent had been to stop by the studio and bring the photos to Jake. They were some shots we had taken over the last few months: a long weekend in Paris where we'd tried and failed to reconnect; an afternoon spent in Central Park, where we fooled around on the Great Lawn and things seemed hopeful; a miserable day with my parents at the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn, characterized by heavy awkward silences, mini-outbursts, and barely concealed dislike. Faced now with the reality of dropping in on Jake, I balked, loitered on the corner staring at the sidewalk.

I don't want to tell you that my world has gone dark or that the color has drained from my life. That sounds too dramatic, too self-pitying. But I guess that's not too far off. When last you heard from me, I was picking up the pieces of my shattered life. I think we ended on a hopeful note, but the work has been hard. And like any protracted convalescence, there have been more lows than highs.

As of last month, Jake moved out of the apartment we shared on Park Avenue South and is living semi-permanently in his studio on Avenue A. Far from finding peace with his past and coming to terms with what he has learned, Jake has become obsessed with Project Rescue and Max's role in it.

By Max, I mean Maxwell Allen Smiley, my uncle who was not really my uncle by my father's best friend. We shared a special connection all my life. And last year I learned that he was really my biological father. I am currently struggling to recast him in my life as my failed father instead of my beloved uncle.

Project Rescue is an organization developed by Max, an abused child himself, to help pass the Safe Haven Law in New York State years ago. This law allows frightened mothers to abandon their babies at specified Safe Haven sites, no questions asked, no fear of prosecution. I discovered last year that there was a shadow side to this organization. Cooperating nurses and doctors were secretly flagging children they thought were potential victims of abuse and unsafe in their homes. Through a collusion with organized crime, some of these children were abducted and sold to wealthy parents. In a sense, I was a Project Rescue baby, though my story is more complicated. Jake is a Project Rescue baby for whom things went horribly wrong.

Lately, Jake has abandoned his art. And while he and I have not formally broken up, I have become a ghost in our relationship, behaving like a poltergeist, tossing things about, making noise just to get myself noticed.

I am reminded of something my mother, Grace, once said about Max: A man like that, so broken and hollow inside, can't really love well. At least he was smart enough to know it. They say we all fall in love with our fathers over and over in a sad attempt to resolve that relationship. Is it possible I was doing that before I even knew who my father really was?

"Ms. Jones. Ridley Jones." I heard a voice behind me and went cold inside. Over the past year, I had developed quite a fan club, in spite of my best efforts to keep myself out of everything other than my legal obligations involving Christian Luna's murder and the investigation surrounding Project Rescue.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and international bestselling author. Her novels have sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 26 different languages.

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Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
sadeev More than 1 year ago
Strongly recommend reading "Beautiful Lies - Ridley Jones Series #1" prior to reading this one (Sliver of Truth). I wish I would have read them closer together because Sliver of Truth refers to events from Beautiful Lies - this way you aren't wondering why, where, how come... Definitely would recommend this as a read -- keeps you interested all the way through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Could not put this book down once I started. However I strongly suggest you read Beautiful Lies first as this is a continuation of that book. You can read this without reading the 1st but will not get the full impact.
SALFROMTHEVAL1 More than 1 year ago
This book has it all. I loooved it. I have been waiting to find this kind of book. This book is fast paced, has interesting characters, action, romance and intrigue but what distinguishes this one is that it's not over the top. The characters are believable and not perfect. You won't be disappointed!
aliciab_14 More than 1 year ago
Loved this second book from Lisa Unger. There were twists and turns I was not expecting. You will love this thriller and like the first you will not be able to put it down.
Cherine More than 1 year ago
In this sequal to Beautiful Lies, the main character, not knowing how she came to her "parents" causes immense curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and an acceptance of the truth, once found. The ending is offbeat, yet real. The writing style of this author is quick, funny, clear without overburdening the reader with excessive details. You are able to grasp the story and still be fulfilled that it is not a movie of the week Hollywood manuscript. Hopefully, this author will continue to produce more good reads.
Gloria-s-Views More than 1 year ago
I found it fun to pick up the book and catch up with what was happening in the live of Ridley Jones. It is a good sequel and ties up a few missing ends. I enjoyed reading a book written in the first person. You don't find that too often.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Here `tis - the eagerly awaited sequel to Lisa Unger's debut thriller 'Beautiful Lies,' and it's another corker. Protagonist Ridley Jones, whom we first met last year in 'Beautiful Lies,' had hoped to go on with a somewhat normal life - as normal as life can be for one whose face graced front pages after she saved the life of a toddler - but that is not to be, not even close. We hear, 'I bet you thought you'd heard the end of me. You might have at least hoped that I'd had my fill of drama for one lifetime and that the road ahead of me would not hold any more surprises, that things would go pretty smoothly from now on. Believe me, I thought so, too. We were both wrong.' Ridley's boyfriend, Jake, has moved out of the apartment they shared and the two of them have tried various ways to reconnect without a great deal of success. One might have thought a trip to Paris would do the trick! As if this breach in their relationship were not enough, Ridley has discovered that the man she thought of as Uncle Max is actually her biological father. Although Max is now dead, she's in the position of trying to 'recast' her uncle as her father. Max had played a pivotal part in the development of Project Rescue, an organization devoted to getting the Safe Haven Law passed in New York State. Under this law mothers are allowed to abandon their children at specified Safe Haven sites if their children are abused or the mothers fear they will be. As with so many thing there's an up side and a down side to Project Rescue. It seems that some doctors and nurses have been selecting certain children they think will be victims of abuse, then in cooperation with criminals abducting them and selling them to well-to-do parents. Myra Lyall, a reporter for the Times, was covering this story - until she was murdered. Ridley has picked up some photos that she and Jake had taken recently - in Paris, in Central Park. The photos reveal more than she remembers - there's a murky figure in almost all of them. It's a familiar figure, one she identifies as Max. How could this be when he is dead? Broadway, television and film actress Jenna Lamia does a dynamite job of vivifying Ridley with all of her fears, suspicions, and bravado. She effectively captures a range of emotions in an estimable voice performance. - Gail Cooke
Clarkie08 More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this one down loved everything about it. Characters were wonderful vant wait to see what lisa unger comes out w/ next
smoochys More than 1 year ago
Beautiful Lies told a pretty good original story. Sliver of Truth just twists the first story - and not in a good way. I love books that turn into series, but this book had nowhere to go from the start.
harstan More than 1 year ago
New York City reporter Ridley Jones thinks she resolved the identity of her biological father who was the now deceased Uncle Max Smiley, head of Project Rescue that saved abused children from nasty parents. Ridley was a rescued child placed in the home of Ben and Grace Jones, who adopted her. However, Ridley uncovers the fact that Project Rescue also abducted children from safe harmonious households to place them in the homes of clients.------------------- Now FBI Agent Dylan Grace takes some photos from Ridley that shows Max or a doppelganger in the background of the pictures. The Feds seek Max, who they believe is alive, for his alleged abductions of women that he sells as sex slaves and his baby vending business. Dylan believes Ridley is the link that will lead him to the recently vanished New York Times journalist, Myra Lyall, whom the special agent thinks Max kidnapped to sell to the highest bidder--------------------- Everyone including Ridley, Dylan and her on and off boyfriend Jake seek to find Uncle Max, who is the apparent head of several nefarious rings. The sort line is action-packed from the moment that Ridley collects her photos in Manhattan and never slows down until the final confrontation. However, the motives of the key characters are difficult to fathom until late in the novel even for those who read Ridley's previous discoveries about her parentage (see BEAUTIFUL LIES). Still this is an engrossing thriller that has the audience soaring along side the heroine on both sides of the Atlantic as she tries to learn whether Uncle Max lives.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous 6 months ago
Wondered if he could become a med cat.
SeaKyle More than 1 year ago
Totally unnecessary and over the top. I read the first book with great anticipation but this sequel is way too over the top and utterly unbelievable (even for fiction). The storyline is so far fetched and totally unrealistic. I wonder if the author signed a two-book deal?? Perhaps that is evidenced by the fact that there is not a #3. Great author, great writing. Bad story.
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