Good Girls Lie

by J.T. Ellison
Mira, December 2019, $27.99

Ash Carlisle’s arrival at the elite Goode School of Marchburg, Virginia, is meant to signal the beginning of a new, hopeful phase of her life, following tragic events involving her family a few months prior. Instead, she seems to be a magnet for the strange and macabre, as people in her circle begin to expire at an alarming pace. First, a teacher whose acquaintance she had just made dies unexpectedly. Then a distraught classmate apparently takes her own life. Because of her troubled past, Ash becomes a person of interest to the police and to her sister students. Is she somehow responsible for the deaths? Is someone stalking her? Is it all just a sad coincidence? The answers which J.T. Ellison slowly and cannily doles out will both titillate and disturb.

A dark, moody, surprising, well-wrought psychological thriller that evokes the best of Agatha Christie and Patricia Highsmith, Good Girls Lie is a satisfying and engaging read that delves deeply into the psyches and carefully concealed secrets of the Goode School, its staff, and its students. Ellison clearly knows this complex milieu very well, and exploits the storytelling possibilities it offers to the fullest, such that the school itself seems to rise to the level of a living, breathing character. Ellison continues to grow and excel as a writer, still delivering fresh and bold narratives even after many years in the game.

Hank Wagner
Teri Duerr
December 2019