Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2)

Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2)

by Lisa Unger

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307338495
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 03/25/2008
Series: Ridley Jones Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 475,339
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.82(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

1

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."

2

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.

Reading Group Guide

In Sliver of Truth, rolls of film developed at the corner drugstore spark a life-threatening chain of events for freelance writer Ridley Jones. The gripping story that follows is full of twists and turns, as well as many absorbing themes: finding truth in a web of deception, the meaning of family and what defines a parent, hiding one’s true self as a means of survival, searching the past for clues about the present. The questions below are intended to assist your reading group’s discussion of Lisa Unger’s fast-paced, thrilling novel.

Attention: Plot spoilers throughout this guide.

1. Of all the baffling plot twists in Sliver of Truth, which one caught you most by surprise? Why?

2. The book’s pivotal scene–where Ridley confronts Max at Potter’s Field–bookends the novel, appearing at the beginning and near the conclusion. Why do you think the author chose to structure this scene like this? What did you think of having it split in this way?

3. In chapter 2, Ridley describes her childhood habit of hiding from adults, saying, “I just got better and better at finding places to hide. Eventually I had to reveal myself or never be found” (page 21). In the context of the novel, does this statement have another meaning? If so, what?

4. What was your opinion of Dylan Grace? At first, did you think he was being honest with Ridley about his motives for finding Max?

5. “Some of us are lost and some of us are found. I think that’s really the difference Max had observed” (page 273). Who are the “lost” characters in Sliver of Truth, and who are “found”? What are the differences between these characters?

6. Talk about the relationship between Dylan and Ridley. Did you expect that he and Ridley would get together? Why do you think they were so attracted to each other?

7. “I was filled with dread and fury, and yes, the slightest glimmer of hope,” Ridley says after she finds out Max is still alive (page 283). Why hope? Does this foreshadow her ultimate encounter with Max? At any point in the novel did you believe Max was alive?

8. Ghosts and hauntings are recurrent themes in Sliver of Truth. Discuss some instances where they are prominent, and their significance. Does the author employ other symbols like these?

9. “I have a tremendous ability to compartmentalize my emotions. Some call it denial, but I think it’s a skill to be able to put unpleasant things out of your head for a little while in order to accomplish something else,” (page 98). Consider this statement of Ridley’s. What does it reveal about her personality? Do you agree with what she says?

10. Nature versus nurture is a theme Ridley frequently debates with herself: Is her true self a result of her adoptive parents’ upbringing, or is she Max’s daughter (and therefore shares his traits)? What do you think? Are we really products of our DNA, or do the people around us shape who we become?

11. Discuss Jake. Did you imagine that he was not who he claimed to be? Were you surprised to discover what his real identity actually was? Do you think Ridley suspected that Jake was lying to her?

12. If you read Beautiful Lies, did you realize that Jake lied to Ridley on the Brooklyn Bridge?

13. Why was Ridley unable to see the real Max, despite the attempts by many to inform her of his wrongdoings? For that matter, why does it seem that all the men in Ridley’s life (Dylan, Jake, her ex-boyfriend Zack, even her adoptive father, Ben) hid their true selves from her?

14. “I’m sure you were hoping for a neater package–the villain is caught and brought to justice. I live happily ever after” (page 351). What did you think of the book’s ending? When Ridley’s real intentions against Max were revealed, were you surprised?

15. What do you think the title means?

Introduction

In Sliver of Truth, rolls of film developed at the corner drugstore spark a life-threatening chain of events for freelance writer Ridley Jones. The gripping story that follows is full of twists and turns, as well as many absorbing themes: finding truth in a web of deception, the meaning of family and what defines a parent, hiding one’s true self as a means of survival, searching the past for clues about the present. The questions below are intended to assist your reading group’s discussion of Lisa Unger’s fast-paced, thrilling novel.

Attention: Plot spoilers throughout this guide.

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Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 116 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
Jenxy21 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Just when you thought Ridley Jones might find happiness....wham!! Unger gets you again! This follow up to Beautiful LIes keeps you reeling with suspense and action! What a great story! Thanks Lisa!!
EmScape on LibraryThing 3 days ago
eThe most striking thing about this is the very conversational style of writing. It is as if the main character and first person narrator is sitting with you in your living room and telling you all about what happened to her. This can be very engaging, but can also be a little bit jarring, particularly when her asides take you out of the story and her endless analysis of her choices in a specific moment. Foreshadowing is also a little heavy-handed as well as frequent. ("If I had known what was going to happen, I might not have done what I did next.") That being said, everything else about this book was just fabulous. The plot twists, secrets and revlations were riveting, and heart-pounding. The main theme of whether (and how much) who a person is is influenced by who her parents are was quite philosophical and pulled the book together, lifted it slightly above your average mystery/thriller. As this is the sequel to "Beautiful Lies" in which Ridley finds out that her parents are not her parents and that she is actually the biological child of her "Uncle" Max and a woman who was murdered when Ridley was little, as well as the fact that Max was an associate of organized crime, I would really recommend one read that first. I hadn't read it in a while, and my memory was refreshed quite expertly, without a lot of boring exposition, but I don't know that one would be able to follow along well if they hadn't read it at all. Go get the pair of them and read them now. Thanks.
bhowell on LibraryThing 3 days ago
This is an average to good thriller. While the tension is maintained, the plot is sometimes too vague to pose a real intellectual challenge. Still, it is an entertaining read.
knithappened on LibraryThing 3 days ago
This book is the sequel to Lisa Unger's "Beautiful Lies" and I believe that to maximize the enjoyment of the storyline you need to read the books back to back (without a span of several months in between). Sliver picks up where Lies left off and the heroine, Ridley Smith is beset with a whole new set of dilemmas, intrigue, and drama. The story is fast-paced and I really enjoy the author's quirky technique of addressing the reader directly in conversation as she discovers information or reflects on the past or expresses comments that foreshadow the future. Quick and enjoyable for lovers of mystery and thrill.
CozyLover on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Although well written and full of intrigue 'Sliver of Truth' doesn't have the edge of your seat, suspense and enthralling drama that 'Beautiful Lies' has. The continuing story of Ridley Jones is one of discovery, the search for truth and the often heart wrenching pain that comes from digging too deep. Unger has a gift for writing, for creating a strong voice and presence of character that makes them come to life on the page. While immersed in this book, and in her last, you loose yourself in the story and in the character's lives. Even though this novel wasn't as suspenseful or intense as the last plot wise, these storyteller's gifts make the book no less an adventure. Whether you've spent time in Ridley's world before or not 'Sliver of Truth' is not to be missed.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Sequel to Beautiful Lies -- Ridley is being used as bait by the FBI, CIA, Mob and other secret operations to lure her biological father out of hiding. No one is whom they seem to be and she discovers that even her adopted father cannot be trusted. Boyfriend Jake has been working undercover all along but she has met Dylan another covert operative. Fast read.
BinnieBee on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I really enjoyed this! Just like Beautiful Lies it was full of twists and turns and surprises. I love that in a novel of suspense!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And Lisa Unger does it once again!?
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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