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First Lie Wins

Recap, Summary & Spoilers

The Quick Recap and Section-by-Section Summary for First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The one-paragraph summary is that Evelyn is a woman who is working as a secret agent for a mysterious guy by the name of Mr. Smith. She develops feelings for her current "mark", Ryan, but during the job, she realizes Mr. Smith has turned on her and is trying to get her arrested or worse, and Ryan might be involved. She thinks it's because of a previous assignment where she failed to retrieve some blackmail materials from someone named Amy Holder. She manages to turn the tables on Mr. Smith, and it's revealed that she has been working with Amy Holder to get rid of Mr. Smith. In the end, Evelyn and Ryan reconcile, and Evelyn and Amy (along with another trusted associate, Devon) take over Mr. Smith's illicit business.

In Chapters 1 - 11, Evelyn Porter and Ryan Sumner are a new couple moving in together. Ryan Sumner is professionally successful and has recently inherited his grandfather's house and a sizeable inheritance. Evelyn is from a small town and never graduated from high school ... but that's not her real identity. As she gets ready to move into his place, she sets up an apartment to make Ryan think she's been living there and is just now moving out, but it's just for show. At a party with his friends, Evelyn meets a woman who looks the way she used to look, named "Lucca Marino" (which is Evelyn's real name) and whose background is the same as Evelyn's actual background. Imposter Lucca is visiting town with James Bernard, an old friend of Ryan's.

Evelyn works for a mysterious person known only to her as Mr. Smith. Her current target is Ryan. Ryan is a runs a branch of a brokerage firm, but he also has a side business that his family originally started as a legitimate trucking business, Glenview Trucking, that now deals in serving as a middle-man in procuring illegal goods. Mr. Smith has instructed Evelyn to dig up and turn over any records relating to Glenview Trucking, including financial information and client lists.

In a series of flashbacks, it's shown that Evelyn/Lucca began stealing jewelry to help pay for medical expenses after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She eventually moved up to stealing higher-value items and caught the eye of Mr. Smith, who recruited her to come work for her 8 years ago. She's been working for him ever since, doing various covert jobs like retrieving blackmail materials and taking on a variety of identities in the process.

In Chapters 12 - 16, In present day, Imposter Lucca and James turn up dead in a car wreck after having dinner with Evelyn and Ryan. The police begin looking into Evelyn and Ryan because of this, taking a particular interest in Evelyn. Meanwhile, Evelyn confirms her suspicions that Imposter Lucca was sent by Mr. Smith. When the police end up with a host of evidence linking her to the death of her previous target, Amy Holder, Evelyn knows Mr. Smith is up to something. Evelyn is arrested.

Evelyn's last job was in Atlanta and involved retrieving blackmail materials on a man named Victor Connelly that were in the possession of Amy Holder. Victor Connelly is a dangerous man who is part of a well-connected crime family. However, the job was a failure. Evelyn was unable to find anything, and Amy Holder died in a fire.

In a series of flashbacks, more of Evelyn's work history is revealed. Six years ago under the identity of Mia Bianchi, she was assigned to get close to and find dirt on Andrew Marshall. However, Andrew was totally clean, and they developed a trusting professional relationship. Instead, Evelyn/Mia used the opportunity to entrap a number of powerful men around him into compromising positions with women and collected those images for future use, referring to the incident as "Hilton Head 2017". Evelyn has a trusted associated named Devon, who does not work for Mr. Smith, that she often relies on for help. She's has also built a friendship over time with George, who also works for Mr. Smith and is occasionally assigned tasks on the same jobs she is on.

In Chapters 17 - 20, in present day, Evelyn uses the incriminating photos from Hilton Head 2017 to blackmail a local judge into arranging to have her released from police custody for the time being. However, the authorities in Atlanta still want to question her. She and Ryan begin making their way to Atlanta, with him promising to support her through this. By now, Evelyn has deduced that Mr. Smith still believes she is withholding the blackmail materials from the Victor Connelly/Amy Holder assignment instead of turning them over, even though she insists there wasn't any. She rented a safety deposit box shortly before Amy's death that has aroused his suspicions, and Mr. Smith is demanding to see its contents.

In a flashback, Evelyn recalls a previous assignment as Wendy Wallace. She was assigned to get the head coach of a major football program in central Florida, Mitch Cameron, let go from his job, but without financial or public blowback. In the process, Evelyn realized that Mitch was likely the client for that job and that he was the one who wanted to get out of his own contract. It's the one job she's done where Evelyn felt sure of who the real client was.

In present day, Evelyn (as Wendy) reaches out to Mitch demanding money, which angers him. She knows it'll prompt him to reach out to Mr. Smith, which he does. Evelyn and Devon use this opportunity to begin trying to track down Mr. Smith to try to discover his real identity.

In Chapters 20 - 24, Evelyn plan seems on track, but she soon discovers to her great concern that Ryan and George seem to know each other well somehow and are working together. She looks into his things and finds materials that she had delivered to Mr. Smith. She realizes that maybe Ryan is Mr. Smith. Devon soon sends her the info that he tracked down about Mr. Smith and his real identity.

In a flashback, she recalls the Amy Holder/Victor Connelly assignment where she used the alias Regina Hale. While Evelyn/Regina worked the job, Amy had revealed that her blackmail materials were actually about Mr. Smith, not Victor Connelly. Evelyn/Regina ended up confronting Amy in her hotel room, but there was a fire. Mr. Smith inquires about anything Amy might've had about him personally, but Evelyn/Regina reports back to Mr. Smith that she wasn't able to recover anything from the fire and didn't get anything about him or Victor Connelly from Amy.

In present day, Evelyn meets with the detectives in Atlanta. They confront with evidence tying her likeness to the Amy Holder death, but Evelyn tells them it's not her. She says the woman linked to Amy Holder is Lucca Marino, who she happens to resemble. (She's basically claiming that Impostor Lucca is the real Lucca and is the one responsible for the Amy Holder crime, not her.)

In Chapters 25 - 26, George forces Evelyn to go and show him the contents of her safety deposit box, the one she'd rented just before Amy Holder's death. She confronts George about being Mr. Smith and that his real name actually is Christopher Smith. (It's revealed that Devon's information actually confirmed that George is Mr. Smith, not Ryan.) She says that she'd been planning on betraying him ever since the "Tate job".

It's revealed that the materials Amy Holder had actually showed that Mr. Smith had been double crossing Victor Connelly for years. When George/Mr. Smith exits the bank, Victor and his associates are waiting to take him away and confront him. (It's assumed Mr. Smith will be killed.) Meanwhile, Evelyn leaves and goes to meet up with Amy Holder, who is revealed to be alive and well.

In a flashback, she recalls what happened after Tate job, a job where she'd been asked to steal a painting that turned out to be bizarrely complex. Evelyn had figured out that the job was a test Mr. Smith set up to test the people working for him. With Devon's help, they'd managed to figure out everyone who had attempted the test and learned that almost all of them were dead. Presumably, they failed and were killed by Mr. Smith. The only ones who were still alive were Evelyn and Amy Holder. Realizing he couldn't be trusted, Evelyn had then gone to Amy and convinced her they needed to get rid of Mr. Smith before he turned around at some point and decided to get rid of them.

(In other words, Evelyn knew Amy Holder even before the Victor Connelly job. The whole thing was a long con to eventually get rid of Mr. Smith.)

The book ends with Evelyn reconciling with Ryan, with them coming clean about each other their illicit activities and being together knowing who the other person really is. Meanwhile, Evelyn, Amy and Devon take over Mr. Smith's business with him out of the way.

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Section-by-Section Summary

Chapters 1 – 6

Evelyn Porter has been seeing Ryan Sumner for two months and meets his childhood friends — Beth, Sara, Allison, and Allison’s husband Cole — for the first time. They are a tight-knit group, and they pepper her with questions.

Evelyn worries they’ll judge her for her background. She only has her G.E.D. and is from a small town in Alabama. She met Ryan at the restaurant bar where she worked. After meeting him, Ryan encouraged her to get a job that would be more acceptable to his peers, so now Evelyn works as an assistant event coordinator for a small gallery.

After dinner, Ryan asks Evelyn to move in with him and she readily agrees. Evelyn is well aware that Ryan inherited a sum of money from his grandfather when he passed away three years ago. The house he lives in is the nice, large house that his grandfather left him in an area called Lake Forbing.

Five days later on a Thursday, Evelyn tells Ryan that she’s planning on spending the day packing for the move. Ryan is busy on Thursdays so he isn’t able to help.

Evelyn heads to a dilapidated apartment that she’s rented for the week. She’s spent the last few days picking stuff out at Goodwill to put into boxes that she can pretend they are the belongings she’s had for a long time. She places stuff around the apartment to give the appearance of someone packing up the last of their things and ready to move out. (The basic gist is that when Ryan comes she’s going to pretend to have been living here with this stuff, but it’s just for show.)

After the move, Evelyn goes to a P.O. Box #1428 and puts a small envelope inside.

Evelyn has lunch plans with Ryan’s childhood friends along with another woman, Rachel Murray. When they start prying about her background, Evelyn lies and tells them that she left home after her parents died in an accident where she was the only survivor. She hopes this story will shut down their line of questioning, but Rachel continues to pry at her with questions until Evelyn firmly puts a stop to it.

After lunch, Evelyn suspects they’ll likely Google the story she told them about her name “Evelyn Porter” and the hometown “Brookwood, Alabama” she told them. She also knows they’ll find vague articles about the accident she referenced — because she planted those articles months ago for precisely this reason. Later, she calls Rachel to clear the air after the awkward lunch encounter.

Afterwards, Evelyn thinks about how at times she wishes for Ryan’s sake that she could be the person she’s pretending to be, but she knows she can’t dwell on or indulge in her feelings for him.

Chapters 7 – 8

Evelyn and Ryan head to a Derby watch party that his friends are hosting. There, Ryan introduces her to James Bernard, an old friend of his who is accompanied by a very well-dressed woman named Lucca Marino. Lucca says that she’s from a small town called Eden, North Carolina and it comes up that her mother died from breast cancer.

After they talk, Evelyn excuses herself and freaks out. Evelyn’s real name is Lucca Marino, she’s from Eden and her mother died from breast cancer. She doesn’t know who this woman is or why she’s impersonating Evelyn’s real identity.

Lucca Marino — 10 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, Lucca (who is currently going by Evelyn) is at an engagement party dressed in a cocktail dress. There’s a large crash and she ducks away to get to a stash of pricey jewelry. She takes the loot, quickly changes into a hoodie, leaves out the window and goes home to the trailer where she lives with her mother. Her mother is a seamstress who is dying of cancer. As Lucca makes sure she is comfortable and eating, they fantasize about the life they could have.

After her mother got sick, Lucca took over her mother’s work, but it wasn’t enough to pay for the treatments. Instead, she now works at a flower shop and when they need floral arrangements from fancy parties, she takes the opportunity to steal their jewelry. She scopes it out when she’s delivering the flowers but then attends the party and steals the stuff during the party so it’ll be less suspicious.

In present day, Evelyn tries to calm herself. When she joins Ryan’s friends, they mention how James Bernard previously screwed Ryan over, and they’re surprised Ryan has forgiven him. On the drive home, Ryan brings up that his relationship with James is strained and that he wouldn’t be willing to bail him out again.

Chapters 9 – 10

Evelyn’s employer is secretive, only telling her what she needs to know. She was given Ryan as a mark and instructions on how to seduce him and studied him for months closely before approaching him. It was recommended that the “damsel in distress” bit would work well on him. Her employer is interested in information that’s linked to Ryan’s work in East Texas.

Evelyn’s last job was a failure — she’s wasn’t able to secure the blackmail materials she was tasked to retrieve about Victor Connolly — so she’s already on thin ice. Victor is a bad person to get on the wrong side of. She doesn’t know how the appearance of this so-called “Lucca” woman plays into things. She checks the P.O. Box from before, #1428, and sees that it’s empty.

Lucca Marino — 8 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, Lucca recalls an auction fundraiser in Raleigh, North Carolina where she was working as a server/bartender. In the last few years, Lucca has graduated to stealing not only jewelry, but also things like paintings and antiques and other things of value. Tonight, she had a credit card scanner to steal credit card information set up at the auction site, but it was detected and the police have confronted her.

However, when they take her out, they don’t arrest her. Instead, they put her in touch with someone named “Mr. Smith” over the phone. The digitally altered voice tells her that she appeared on their radar because of something she stole and that he’s interested in giving her a job. She shows up as instructed that Monday to seedy looking building and the man at the front desk goes by Matt Rowen. He offers her an assignment.

In present day, Evelyn contacts the “emergency-use only” line for the employer and informs them about the woman calling herself Lucca. The voice informs her that they sent this woman, groomed her to look like Evelyn and adopt her likeness and that she’s an insurance policy to remind her that she’s replaceable because she messed up her previous assignment. Evelyn is concerned, but also finds it interesting that they would make the effort to groom someone to adopt her persona.

Chapter 11

Ryan runs a local branch of a national brokerage firm in Lake Forbing. He also runs a transportation and trucking business called Glenview Trucking in Glenview, Texas. He never talks about the trucking business.

According to Evelyn’s data, the trucking business was originally established by his grandfather, William Sumner as a legitimate business, and his father Scott joined the business as well. At some point it moved into the vastly more profitable area of acting as a broker for stolen goods. Ryan took over when his grandmother got cancer and he limits his on-site involvement to his activities on Thursdays. He tries to keep the business separate from his life in Lake Forbing.

Under Ryan’s stewardship, he’s taken the illicit business from moving stuff stolen xboxes or whatnot to more upscale, higher-end merchandise. He deals in specialty black market items.

While Evelyn’s assignment is to get information to help an unknown client take over Ryan’s business, Evelyn is now mostly interested in trying to understand why she was sent on this assignment in particular to test her. She’s already turned over a lot of information to her employer such as the trucking business’s financial data and client list — all the information they’d need to mount a takeover.

Evelyn visits the facility for the trucking business and makes her way in secretly. Inside she overhears Ryan confronting someone, Freddie, about trying to cut a side deal without his knowledge. He threatens to tell Robert Davidson, one of his biggest customers, about it. It’s clear the prospect of Robert getting involved terrifies Freddie.

When she heads home, she thinks about how they’ll both lie about what they did that day.

Chapters 12 – 14

Izzy Williams — 8 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, she recalls her first job as “Izzy Williams”. For that job, she is a nanny to a 5-year-old named Miles Kingston. His parents are Greg and Jenny Kingston. Her assignment is to locate a flash drive and leave a modified dupe in its place. She locates a safe hidden behind a painting and manages to get into the safe by guessing the combination. She gets caught red-handed in the safe by Jenny, but when Jenny drunkenly comes at her, Jenny trips and falls and hits her head. Despite being told to just leave, “Izzy” calls Greg to let him know there’s been an accident before she leaves. She gets castigated for how she handled various aspects of the task, but she’s paid and offered another task.

Evelyn and Ryan are at Home Depot when they run into James and Imposter Lucca. They make small talk and Evelyn, wanting to find out more about Impostor Lucca, invites them over for dinner.

That night at dinner, Evelyn asses the two of them and determines that James is merely a pawn and isn’t someone who is working for “Mr. Smith”. Evelyn also purposefully plants something somewhere she knows Impostor Lucca will rifle through and report back to Mr. Smith. Towards the end of the night, Evelyn confronts Impostor Lucca about also working for Mr. Smith, which flusters Imposter Lucca. Ryan also has an awkward interaction with James when they’re alone. James asks him for money, and Ryan tells him that he’s done with him.

The next day, the news reports that James and Imposter Lucca were in a car accident the night before, causing them to drive through the guardrail and into a lake, and they both died. Evelyn is unsure of what this means or if Mr. Smith wanted her dead and if so why. She and Ryan agree to go see James’s parent to pay their respects.

The police are there at James’s parents house. Evelyn and Ryan readily admit that the deceased were at their house last night and willingly answer Deputy Bullock’s questions. James and Impostor Lucca had been visiting James’s parents and staying with them. Evelyn takes the opportunity to sneak a look at their things. She find’s Impostor’s Lucca’s instructions which had been to look through Evelyn’s possessions and report back anything of note. It had been sent to Box #2870.

Mia Bianchi — 6 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, she recalls an assignment as Mia Bianchi. Her task was to get close to Andrew Marshall, a promising Tennessee gubernatorial candidate who Mr. Smith clearly think has a chance of winning. Mia is young but quickly becomes a trusted member of his team. Lucca/Evelyn also works with Devon, someone who is not employed by Mr. Smith, on this job. It’s important to her that Devon is loyal to her, not him, in case she ever needs someone who is only on her side. Devon has been able to hook her up with things she needed in the past.

This operation is run by Matt, as a chance to show Mr. Smith what he’s capable of, but Lucca/Evelyn is not impressed with his plan. Matt hopes to have someone seduce Andrew at the Hilton Head Hotel and for Lucca/Evelyn to capture it as blackmail, but she feels sure that Andrew won’t take the bait. Instead, she spikes Andrew’s drink and enacts a different plan.

Chapters 15 – 16

Evelyn leave a message on Southern Living’s Instagram account, which is how she communicates with Devon. She lets him know she wants to meet up tonight at 5 PM. He responds confirming the time. That night, she fills him in on what’s happened and Impostor Lucca’s death.

Later that night, Evelyn and Ryan are at home when she gets a “9-1-1” text from Devon, indicating that she needs to get out of there. Before she can do so, she sees that Deputy Bullock is at their home. The officer says that she’s here with questions regarding the death of Amy Holder. Amy Holder was the mark for Evelyn’s previous failed job in Atlanta (where she was supposed to get the blackmail materials about Victor Connelly). Amy died in a fire. She knows that if the officer has made the connection between her current identity and her part identity, then she is in serious trouble.

Evelyn is brought to an interrogation room at the police station. She knows she needs a lawyer and decides to request Ryan’s friend, Rachel Murray. Rachel explains that when they ran the name “Evie Porter” in Brookwood, Alabama, a warrant popped up regarding the Amy Holder case. There’s a photo of her at the scene of the crime shortly before Amy died.

Rachel asks Evelyn what’s going on. Evelyn admits that her real name isn’t Evelyn Porter and that she was going by the name Regina Hale when she knew Amy. Rachel has also done her own research and has a Student ID from the University of Alabama with Evelyn’s name but the photo is of her Izzy Williams getup. There’s also a driver’s license with Evelyn’s name and the photo is of her in the Mia Bianchi getup.

As Rachel pulls out more documentation, Evelyn realizes that Mr. Smith has set her up and has slowly been planting all these documents under this identity on purpose. Evelyn decides she needs to call in a favor. She gives Rachel someone to contact, telling her to reference Hilton Head on June 2017 and to get her out of there.

Lucca Marino — 6 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, Evelyn/Lucca recalls what happened following the Andrew Marshall situation. She had been called into talk to Mr. Smith. She had explained to him that Matt’s plan had been a bad one and she’d had to devise a new plan instead. She ended up inviting a bunch of important men to the hotel that night — Senators, judges, etc — and then gotten incriminating evidence of them with the girls that had been intended for Andrew Marshall. Andrew had simply been unconscious for the events. For all the people she had evidence of, she sent them an origami swan that folds out to an incriminating photo of them labeled “Hilton Head 2017” so they know she has something on them.

After explaining all this to Mr. Smith, she then made clear that she didn’t want to work with Matt anymore. Mr. Smith agrees that she should report directly to him instead.

Chapters 17 – 18

In present day, Judge McIntyre (one of the Hilton Head people) of Louisiana ends up getting her out of her jam, though she still needs to meet with to the detectives about the Amy Holder situation on Friday in Atlanta. Evelyn is starting to understand why Mr. Smith is setting her up. Before, her Lucca Marino identity was something she could fall back on, but no longer. Instead, there’s now so much evidence of her as Evie Porter that she’ll aways be tied to that identity.

Ryan wants to know what’s going on but can tell Evelyn’s not ready to talk about it so he doesn’t push. At home, there’s an origami swan on her nightstand. She unfolds it to find two images — a photo of her and Amy angrily talking outside a hotel and another of her following Amy into that hotel — the same hotel where there was a fire shortly after resulting in Amy’s death.

There’s a phone number at the bottom of the paper. She calls it and Mr. Smith is on the other end of the line. He admits to being the one setting her up and to killing Imposter Lucca because that death was meant to make the police question Evelyn about her whereabouts that night. He says he’s doing all this because he knows that Evelyn is keeping something from him from the Atlanta (Amy Holder) job. He knows Evelyn rented a safe deposit box before Amy’s death and demands to see the contents.

Evelyn insists the contents have nothing to do with Amy or her death, but Mr. Smith leaves her with no choice but to meet with someone in Atlanta who will inspect its contents. Ryan and Rachel are both planning on coming to Atlanta with her. Evelyn tells Rachel there’s stuff she needs to take care of alone, but that she’ll meet her there Friday morning. Evelyn sets up a quick meeting with Devon and slips him a paper with the details of what’s happened and her plan of action.

Wendy Wallace — 6 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, she recalls a job under the alias of Wendy Wallace. The target is Mitch Cameron, head football coach for a university in central Florida. She’s also working with , who also works for Mr. Smith. Mitch is married to Mindy and they have two kids. She’s asked to record, spy on and document everything about this guy and his players, with the star player being Tyron Nichols. She’s given instruction to find a way to remove Mitch from his position, but without a negative outcome financially or publicly. She decides to blackmail one of the university megadonors, Phil Robinson, into demanding that Mitch be removed.

The plan works. Afterwards, she reaches out to Tyron to give him some advice — about his career, warning him that people may have their eye on him — and Tyron mentions that Mitch knew he would be leaving the team even before Lucca/Evelyn had enacted her plan. Tyron says Mitch isn’t worried and that he’s been looking at where to go next. Tyron says he’s likely to go wherever Mitch goes.

Chapters 19 – 20

On the way to Atlanta, Evelyn asks Ryan to make a stop at Oxford, Mississippi, the college town connected to Ole Miss. As they drive, Ryan finally tells her the truth about his goings-on in East Texas and their illicit activities. Evelyn promises to tell him everything about her, but says they need to get through Friday first.

She goes to see Mitch. She tells him that she was the one who got him out of the central Florida coaching job, and she assumes he got a payday out of it. Now she needs money and he owes her. Mitch refuses, and she yells at him and leaves.

Afterwards, she checks a phone app which is connected to Mitch’s cell phone and confirms that he did what she expected — he responded by calling up to complain to Mr. Smith about her. Of all the jobs she’s done, the Mitch Cameroon one was the only where she was very sure of who the client actually was, thanks to Tyron having mentioned Mitch knowing he was leaving before she’d done anything.

On the app, she sees that Mitch is posting to a message board saying that “I just heard Dancing in the Moonlight for the first time today” and she sees a lot of similar messages from other users. She deduces that message must be how clients make contact with Mr. Smith. After Mitch reaches out, Mr. Smith responds as “Kingharvestmegafan” and reassures him that the stranger who came to bother him will be taken care of.

The purpose of all this was for her to seem a little unhinged and to find a way to get more information about Mr. Smith and his real identity. Next, she tells Ryan that they’re going to Nashville.

Helen White — 4 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, she recalls an assignment as Helen White in Fort Worth, Texas. She was set to retrieve a painting from the home of oil tycoon Ralph Tate. She suspects there’s no real client for this job, it’s just a painting that Mr. Smith wants for himself. She’s recruited Devon to help her in dealing with the house’s security system. After inspecting the specs, Devon warns her that something about the job feels strange. There’s a trophy room that’s heavily secured next to a laundry room that has a suspicious amount of wiring, and he suspects the painting is hidden in the laundry room and that the trophy room is a trap.

To get access to the Tate’s, Helen seduces Ralph’s son, Sawyer, to get an invite to a big party at the Tate house. She’s able to retrieve the painting. Afterwards, Mr. Smith calls her to confirm, and she asks whether this was some type of test. Mr. Smith acknowledges that he’s sent multiple people on this mission and wanted to see who would succeed. Later, she meets up with George who she has become friends with over time.

In Nashville, Evelyn meets with Andrew Marshall. He asks if she needs anything, acknowledging that he owes her one from before. Evelyn lets him know that she might need to call in a favor soon and he reassures her he’s happy and willing to do whatever he can. After Andrew leaves, George shows up letting her know that he’s been sent by Mr. Smith to make sure she stays on track and gets to Atlanta. He wants her to know that Mr. Smith means business and says that “I don’t want to do what he’ll ask me to do if you don’t.”

Afterwards, Evelyn goes to a hotel room and meets with Devon. It’s clear they’re well aware and expecting Mr. Smith to be monitoring and recording her previous conversation that day with Andrew and George. Evelyn knows that Mr. Smith will assume she has something on Andrew (as opposed to him helping her out of loyalty), just like he seems to assume she has whatever blackmail materials that Victor Connelly thought Amy Holder had.

By now, Devon has found a way into the Atlanta PD computer system. He pulls up the Amy Holder file. There’s been new evidence against Evelyn added, including a video of her.

Chapter 21 – 24

Back in a motel, Evelyn and Ryan get ready to head to Atanta when she overhears a conversation between Ryan and George, who she didn’t realize was at the motel. She realizes to her dismay that Ryan and George are colluding on something and it’s clear these two know each other well. George hands Ryan something.

While Ryan is asleep, Evelyn goes through Ryan’s things. She discovers the hard copy of the last set of materials that she had delivered to “Mr. Smith”. She realizes Ryan could be Mr. Smith. She thinks through the timeline and recalls how she dealt with Matt primarily the first two years she was working with Mr. Smith. Six years ago, Ryan’s grandmother got cancer and Ryan took over Glenview Trucking. That’s around the same time she insisted on dealing directly with Mr. Smith and he agreed.

Evelyn contacts Devon about her suspicions. Devon gives her the information he got identifying Mr. Smith when Coash Marshall reached out to him. He tells her Mr. Smith’s real identity. She then drives to her hometown of Eden, North Carolina. She goes to the doctor’s office and slips into the mechanical room to upload some files up to the server. Then, she leaves.

Regina Hale — 6 MONTHS AGO

In a flashback, Evelyn recalls the Regina Hale job involving the Victor Connelly blackmail materials where Amy Holder was the target who was said to be in possession of those materials. Victor Connelly is a dangerous man who is part of a well-connected crime family. After watching Amy for a while, Amy confronts her, saying that she knows what Regina wants (the blackmail materials) and that she can’t have them. Evelyn/Regina presses on with the job, with Amy eventually revealing that the materials she has are not about Victor Connelly, but about actually about Mr. Smith himself. She later poses as a maid to force her way into Amy’s hotel room.

In present day, Evelyn meets with Rachel in downtown Atlanta to meet with Detectives West and Crofton to be questioned about Amy Holder. The police start to question Evelyn and ask why she was using the name “Regina Hale” while she was in Georgia. Evelyn claims it was because she was in a bad relationship when she was living in Brookwood and needed to get away from her ex. She tells them that her ex is Justin Burns and his brother is Captain Ray Burns. Both these men are real people in case, since she knows they will check up on it. When the police aren’t able to find any records of domestic disturbances or anything, she knows they’ll assume it’s because Justin’s brother was able to get it scrubbed from the record as the police Captain.

The detectives show her the evidence they have against her. She answers evasively. Finally, when they start pulling out the hard evidence such as the video of her at the hotel with Amy Holder, Evelyn interrupts them, saying that the woman they’re seeing isn’t her — it’s Lucca Marino. (She’s basically claiming that Impostor Lucca is the real Lucca and is the one responsible for the Amy Holder crime, not her.)

As the police look into the news about imposter Lucca’s death, they remark that the resemblance is uncanny. Evelyn has also previously placed other traces of Impostor Lucca and things associated her image with that name in various places for them to uncover and confirm. As much as Evelyn has tried to protect her real identity and the name “Lucca Marino” in the past, she knows now is the time to let it go and let “Lucca” take the fall for this crime.

The police ask about her whereabouts the night of Amy’s death, but Evelyn calls Tyrone, who is now a famous football player, and has him confirm that she was at dinner with him and his wife.

Afterwards, George finds Evelyn — he demands to go with her to see what’s inside her safety deposit box.

Regina Hale — 6 MONTHS AGO

In a flashback, it’s revealed that after the fire, Evelyn/Regina had left and called Mr. Smith. She tells him that Amy had been smoking. When she went to confront Amy, Amy had dropped a cigarette that caught the room on fire, which spread quickly because of some spilled wine. Mr. Smith tells Evelyn/Regina that he knows Amy had said something about having dirt on him (Mr. Smith). Evelyn/Regina reassures Mr. Smith that she wasn’t able to recover anything from the fire.

Chapter 25

In present day, George and Evelyn go to the bank where her safety deposit box is, #3291. When they open it, inside, there is only a small origami swan. At this point, Evelyn confronts George with the information that Devon gave her yesterday — that George is the real Mr. Smith. His real name is Christopher Smith.

Evelyn admits that she’d been planning on betraying in for the last four years, after she’d seen how he tried to test her with the Tate job (the stolen painting). In the Amy Holder job, Evelyn got ahold of documents showing that Mr. Smith had been double-crossing Victor for years. When they exit the bank, Evelyn has arranged for Victor Connelly is be waiting for George/Mr. Smith outside. Victor and his associates usher him into an SUV, and they leave. It’s assumed that Mr. Smith will be killed.

Afterwards, Evelyn flies and goes to see Amy Holder, who is alive and well.

Helen White — 4 YEARS AGO

In a flashback, she recalls what happened after the Tate job concluded. The job had been a test Mr. Smith had set up to see who to keep around. Devon had been able to use information from that job to figure out everyone else who had attempted to steal that same painting. His info revealed the identities of everyone else working for Mr. Smith and it showed that only two people out of all of them were left — Evelyn and Amy Holder. Everyone who failed was killed.

Afterwards, Evelyn had gone to see Amy Holder and told her all of this. She tells Amy that she doesn’t trust Mr. Smith since he clearly is willing to kill them if they slip up and obviously quitting is a death sentence. She convinces Amy that they need to get rid of Mr. Smith.

In present day, Evelyn, Devon and Amy hang out at a cabin and reminisce about all the work it took to set this all up.

After meeting, she and Amy had continued doing jobs for Mr. Smith while looking for evidence to use against him. Once they hit on the Victor Connelly stuff, Amy purposely went rogue on a job knowing Mr. Smith would strike against her. He tried to go after Amy’s sister Heather and Heather’s daughter, Sadie, but Devon was able to secure them elsewhere. At that point, Amy continued to act unstable in Atlanta, knowing Mr. Smith would send someone after the materials she had — the someone being Evelyn.

As for Ryan, it’s unclear how involved with Mr. Smith he was, but they do know that he had used Ryan’s services over the years.

Evie Porter — 4 MONTHS AGO

In a short flashback, Evelyn recalls her first real meeting with Ryan at a gas station. She approaches him needing help with a flat tire and offers to buy him a drink after he helps her out.

In present day, it’s been three months since Mr. Smith was taken away. Evelyn goes to see Ryan. They tentatively begin exchanging information about their dealings with Mr. Smith, and they decide to continue seeing each other — but this time knowing who the other person really is.

Meanwhile, Evelyn, Devon and Amy have taken over Mr. Smith’s business. The book ends with them checking the message board that Mr. Smith had previously been using to contact clients to see who is trying to reach them.

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Bookshelf -- A literary set collection game