Trust Me

by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Forge Books, August 2018, $25.99

In Hank Phillippi Ryan’s first standalone novel, Trust Me, Boston journalist Mercer Hennessey is still grieving over the loss of her husband and child in a car accident the year before, when she is commissioned to write a true-crime book covering the trial of young mother Ashlyn Bryant, accused of the horrific murder of her two-year-old daughter.

The crime at hand holds emotional resonance for Mercer as she watches the live courtroom footage. It’s a shocking case and no one believes that the party girl Ashlyn is remotely innocent—not even Mercer, who has not even an iota of sympathy for the frivolous Ashlyn.

Ryan shows the trial through Mercer’s eyes and threads information about the case and the certainty of Ashlyn’s guilt through her protagonist’s thoughts. However, everything is turned on its head when the young mother is found not guilty and, by request from the book’s publisher, is sent to stay with Mercer for two weeks at her home so the journalist can finish writing her book.

The plot at this point becomes a little muddled, but readers will enjoy the untrustworthy Ashlyn as she manipulates her own story and convinces Mercer to buy into her ever-changing version of events. Mercer begins to question her own sanity including the memories she has of her husband as she becomes increasingly involved with the supposedly innocent Ashlyn.

Trust Me, at times, is uneven with moments and situations that verge on the absurd, but its exploration of a woman’s psyche, the suspense of outing a possible diabolical murderer, and the unreliability of the narrator prove to be a wicked and fun ride for fans of psychological suspense.

Ariell Cacciola
Teri Duerr
August 2018
Forge Books