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Beautiful Lies (Ridley Jones) Mass Market Paperback – April 29, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 265 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Ridley Jones Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After an act of heroism garners instant fame for 30-something New York freelancer Ridley Jones, she receives a faded photo of a man, a familiar-looking woman and a little girl along with a note asking, "Are you my daughter?" Shaken, she confronts her parents, who affirm she is theirs by birth; that same day, however, hot new neighbor Jake enters her life, and he's less sure. With breathless speed, Unger is off on an action-packed journey of treachery and intrigue—and sex and romance. Jake turns out to have just as much at stake in discovering Ridley's past as she, but in the way are Ridley's controlling parents; her drug-addicted brother, Ace; her intrusive former boyfriend, pediatrician Zack; and the people protecting the legacy of her Uncle Max, a real estate mogul who used his influence to fund rescue houses for abused women and children. Following leads garnered from scrutinizing the operations of places Max's foundation supports, Ridley and Jake uncover a chilling scheme for taking infants and toddlers from violent homes; their relationship heats up, and Ridley's family gets very edgy. The premise—that there is a dark side to the safe haven law—is deep as well as clever, and Unger plays it out thrillingly. rights reserved.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Unless readers scan the biographical information first, they will never guess that Unger is a first novelist. Her ability to generate spine-tingling suspense while evoking the danger and glamour of New York City is matched by her skill in creating memorable, realistic characters. Most notable is protagonist Ridley Scott, a freelance writer whose life changes when she rescues a toddler who wanders into traffic. Her heroic act delights a city of cynical New Yorkers and leads to weeks of newspaper and TV publicity. While enjoying her 15 minutes of fame, Ridley receives a strange message from someone claiming to be her father--but she already has a father. Her parents dismiss the note as the work of a crackpot, but Ridley senses they are lying. Perhaps the only one who knows the truth is her brother, Ace, estranged from the family as a result of his drug addiction. Just as Ridley starts to investigate her own past, she meets Jake, a handsome new neighbor who quickly becomes involved in her quest. When it turns out Jake might be connected to her investigation, Ridley feels betrayed--is he using her? Unger takes readers on a pulse-pounding ride through the Big Apple in this outstanding debut that will please both pace-obsessed thriller fans and those who want to savor the more subtle aspects of character development. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ridley Jones (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307388999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307388995
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of fourteen novels, including her new thriller INK AND BONE (June 7, 2016.)

Critics agree that she is at the top of her game in her latest release CRAZY LOVE YOU - a creepy and complex tale of obsession, addiction, and more, which The Washington Post calls a "sinister thriller." Never one to play it safe, Unger pushes the boundaries and "scores another bull's eye" says Kirkus.

Additional accolades include selections as a Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Best Book, International Thriller Writers Finalist for Best Novel, France's Prix Polar International Best Book Finalist, Silver Falchion Award Winner for Best Book, Florida Book Award Winner, Bookspan International Book of the Month, Target Emerging Author, Indie Next Book of the Month, Best Book of the Year (Sun Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Suspense Magazine, and Amazon.)

Her books are published in twenty-six languages worldwide, have sold millions of copies and have been named top picks by the NBC Today show, CBS Good Morning America, Walmart Book Club, Harper's Bazaar, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Publishers Weekly, Washington Life, New York Daily News, Entertainment Weekly and more. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and Travel+Leisure Magazine. Lisa Unger currently lives in Tampa Bay, Florida with her husband, daughter and labradoodle.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had such high hopes. This book had starred reviews which were apparently (forgive me) "beautiful lies." I enjoy a good thriller, even if it isn't high art. But this isn't thrilling. It's slow. And the writing is belabored. Lisa Unger, the author, can't let a noun go by without attaching three or four adjectives or descriptive dependent clauses. People don't just sit on a couch. They walk across the warped, green, linoleum floor and bend their creaking knees to lower themselves, tiredly, to the velvet red couch bought second-hand on a street corner in Williamsburg on a rainy Thursday when no one wanted to be up but the sun was too bright to do otherwise. See what I'm saying? The main character enters a cheap pizza joint and the story stops for an entire page while we read all about the paneling, the floors, every person sitting in the place, and the posture of the proprietress. In other hands, maybe this would be interesting, but here it is like you're trapped in a conversation where the other person REFUSES TO GET TO THE POINT. Maddening. Do not waste your time.
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Format: Hardcover
WOW!!! I predict a wonderful future for Lisa Unger's first novel, "Beautiful Lies." I forecast its presence on the NY Times Bestseller List for many a moon. However, unlike a number of successful bestselling novels, this one is well written. It also has a most original plot and a quirky, three dimensional protagonist, as well as realistic minor characters. And, oddly enough, there are no real villains in a story where bad things certainly happen. In the novel her main character, Ridley Jones, says/thinks "there are no heroes or villains in real life, 'only good and bad choices.'

Our gal Ridley is a thirty-something freelance writer who does work for Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, etc., so she is pretty successful. But rents are high in New York City and even successful freelancers are hard pressed at times to come up with the rent. Ridley does not have this problem. She inherited a healthy sum of money from her uncle, "who wasn't actually an uncle," but her father's best friend. He absolutely adored her. This money cushions her against potential poverty and allows her freedom from financial worries. And "freedom" is a concept of immense importance to her.

Ridley's "fairly uneventful life" is turned upside down one morning...the morning she gains a bit more than her share of 15 minutes of fame. She sees a toddler about to be hit by a speeding truck and leaps into the street to save the boy. Fortuitously...or not, a photographer is on the scene and Ridley, in full action, appears on the cover of the local papers. The story is picked up by the morning talk shows where she and her family bask in the glory of her brief but bright spotlight. They have no idea what her moment of fame will bring her...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I truly enjoyed this book. It wasn't necessarily about the story, although I was riveted, and compelled to turn pages to learn the outcome. Plain and simple, it was about the writing. Lisa Unger's style is refreshing and original. I felt like she, through the voice of her protagonist, was in the room with me, telling me this story.

Beautiful Lies is a first-person account of a young woman named Ridley Jones, who contemplates a single act, and the events leading up to this act, that change her life forever. She became a momentary celebrity after saving a child from being hit by a car. Because her heroic and selfless deed was inadvertently videotaped, the world witnessed it on local and even national television, and her exposure enabled the truth of her identity to be exposed as well.

Throughout the tale, Unger/Jones "talks" to her reader. "I know what you're thinking," she often writes. At first I found this a little annoying, but ultimately, I had to admit in each case, she did know what I was thinking. She had me that hooked. Throughout the story, she interjects little gems of wisdom regarding family dynamics where her parents and brother (her biological parents and biological brother???) are concerned, which had me nodding my head and saying "yes!" One of my favorite lines in the book is: "It's strange how memory gets twisted and pulled like taffy in its retelling, how a single event can mean something different to everyone present." Ultimately, the mysteries are revealed and all the characters--particularly the parents, the mysterious uncle, drug-addict brother, sexy man upstairs, ex-boyfriend and his mother, and the mob-linked laywer--are relevant and satisfying.

This is a great, fast read and I recommend it for readers who appreciate good story telling and down to earth characters.

Michele Cozzens, Author of A Line Between Friends and The Things I Wish I'd Said.
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Format: Hardcover
If there's anything better than discoving a really great first-time author, I don't know what it is. I LOVED Beautiful Lies. Basically, once I'd picked up the book, I just couldn't put it down until I'd finished it.

The protagonist, Ridley, was so real. She told her story in the first person and addressed the reader directly. I swear, I could be friends with her.

And the story she had to tell... It started so plausably and got so convoluted. But I was with her every step of the way. Unger made me buy a fairly far-fetched plot. But mostly, I just wanted to know what was going to happen. What HAD already happened to this girl.

Here's how it begins: Ridley Jones is a successful freelance journalist in NY. She's a happy person with a loving family and a good life. One day a random act of heroism gets her photo splashed across the news for a week. In the wake of her brief celebrity, she receives a photograph in the mail. It's a photo of man she's never seen, a woman who bares a striking resemblance to her, and a two-year old girl who looks like she did as a baby--though she's never seen a photo of herself that young. The accompanying note says, "I think you're my daughter." Ridley is not adopted.

The story aqccelerates at a break-neck pace from there. But aside from great characters, and a strong plot, this is an exceptionally well-written thriller. It's being billed as a "literary thriller," and I don't know that I'd go that far, but this novel is way above average.

I can't wait to see what Lisa Unger writes next. I hope she writes fast!
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