The First to Lie, by author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan, is an engaging and twisting domestic thriller. Initially, we follow Ellie, an investigative journalist (like the author herself!) newly relocated to Boston for a job at the brand-new Channel 11 News. Her first big story aims to take on a massive pharmaceutical company for misleading patients about its new miracle drug. Not only is Pharminex pushing it for off-label use as a fertility treatment, but the medication may be causing permanent infertility. As the story hurtles forward, we’re introduced to an all-woman cast of characters, each with their own secrets--and some whose identities just might be one and the same.
My taste in thrillers usually trends toward medical and science subgenres, but Ryan’s strong, decisive voice and familiarity with my own Boston hooked me from the beginning. I enjoyed each new twist as we moved from Ellie and Nora (a cunning pharmaceutical rep) to the ruthless and privileged women on the arms of Pharminex’s men. Every piece of this seemingly chaotic puzzle clicked into place, including a few I hadn’t predicted. Ryan did a wonderful job weaving a tale of the lengths women will go to secure their futures--or avenge them--in a world run by masculine power and wealth. Through the characters’ heartaches and regrets, we learn that the only thing money can’t buy is a miracle.