Tell Me Lies

Maddie was coping pretty well with the adultery, the embezzlement, and the blackmail. Then her old boyfriend came back to town.

Maddie Faraday’s life would be perfect if it weren’t for her nosy neighbors, her interfering mother, her unhappy best friend, her worried little girl, her cheating husband, and that guy she lost her virginity to twenty years ago who just showed up on her front porch. But things keep taking a turn for the worse (and worse than that) and pretty soon she’s up to her eyes in gossip, blackmail, murder, and brownies, not to mention some flashbacks to a past that’s just as steamy in the present.

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 A Romance Writer’s of America Top Ten Romance of 1998
A Literary Guild / Doubleday Book Club Alternate Selection

“Nothing matters except what it takes to survive. You remember this, Madeline: You’re born alone and you die alone. In between, you make deals.”

Tell Me Lies by Jenny Crusie

Book Notes from Jenny

On writing: Maddie’s story is the book of my heart, the one I always promised myself I’d write when I could handle something this complicated. St. Martin’s editor Jen Enderlin not only gave me the chance to do it, when I finished it she was so enthusiastic about it she changed it from paperback to hardcover. She is a goddess among editors, and I owe her all my gratitude and chocolate for life. On the other hand, this was also the hardest book I’ve ever written. I missed my deadline, I gained ten pounds, and I despaired on a regular basis. A friend of mine told me that the best writing advice he’d ever gotten was that if the book you’re writing isn’t beyond your capabilities, you’re not writing the right book. I was definitely writing the right book. At times Jen’s support was the only thing that kept me going; you know you have a great editor when the book is five months overdue and she says, “I believe in you.” Chocolate for life isn’t enough. Maddie’s troubles begin when she finds another woman’s underpants under the front seat of her husband’s car, and things go downhill from there. Her daughter Emily wants a dog, her mother wants gossip, her best friend’s hiding something, and then the guy she lost her virginity to twenty years before shows up looking for her husband. That’s just the first chapter. Based on my experiences with life, nothing ever goes wrong alone; things go rogue in battalions while in the background life makes its everyday demands. Yes, your husband is probably cheating on you and the neighbors are talking and your car just got rear-ended and your microwave is dead, but first your kid needs breakfast. Maddie’s juggling act becomes more and more frantic as more and more disasters hit until finally … 

On character: I set this book in a small town like the one I grew up in and then left thirty years ago. I’m sure it’s not like this now; I’m not even sure it was like this then. It’s just the way I remember it, full of really great people who know every move you make and discuss it with each other. The toughest part was writing the scenes in Emily’s point of view; it’s been a long time since I was an eight-year-old, and eight-year-olds in 1958 were nothing like the eight-year-olds of today. 

On the dog: This is Phoebe, Emily’s puppy. Okay, it’s my Lucy when she was a puppy, but Phoebe looks just like this.

Praise and Reviews

“A ferociously funny, sexy read…” ~Redbook

“It isn’t easy to keep a secret in the claustrophobically small town of Frog Point, Ohio, where high-school passions and grudges are as fresh 20 years later as last week’s intrigues. That’s the premise of this jaunty tale of love and murder… No one from Frog Point has managed to stray very far, but why should they? There’s enough intrigue and scandal right there to make a small city stay home.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

“Crusie has been writing romances for years, but now she turns her considerable talent to mysteries. She has a wicked sense of humor, keen insights into the complexities of modern relationships, and a way of making her characters seem genuine and her stories real… [Tell Me Lies is] a wonderfully fresh, funny, tender, and outrageous story that will delight fans of the comic mystery. There’s a hint of Susan Isaacs in her writing, but Crusie is definitely one of a kind.” ~Booklist

“For lovers of chocolate brownies, fairly explicit sex, and heroines who let it all hang out, an entertaining hardcover debut.” ~Kirkus

“An exciting, sensual romp, chock-full of mystery and intriguing characters, this light novel provides hours of fun reading.” ~Library Journal

“March blows in one of romance writing’s freshest voices, now making her hardcover debut. Tell Me Lies, by Jennifer Crusie, is a masterstroke of wry examination of truth and lies… Crusie writes with a voice that is brutally funny, alternately in-your-face raucous and so poignant you’ll laugh with tears streaming down your cheeks. She transcends comparison, and this tale is a pure gem.” ~BookPage

“[Jennifer Crusie] has a fine narrative voice and a talent for quotable lines. Mostly, she’s a lot of fun.” ~San Jose Mercury News “Deliciously sexy! Tell Me Lies is a mad, passionate and loudly funny first novel.” ~Waldenbook Report

“Jennifer Crusie serves up hot and happy tale of liberation and libido in small town America with a mystery in the middle. Tell Me Lies will please fans of Janet Evanovich and Susan Isaacs who can’t wait fo a sizzling stir fry of mores and monkey business.” ~Mystery Lovers Bookshop News

“Maddie’s coming into her own–being the woman she wants rather than the small town ideal–is clearly a war cry for all women. But with a wry sense of humor and a sure-footed and innovative use of language, Crusie is able to stay balanced on her soap box.” ~UtterKiosk

“Like all Crusie novels, [Tell Me Lies is] hysterically funny. You’ve got to love a novel that celebrates women’s friendships and chocolate almost as much as it glorifies romance.” ~The Romance Reader

“Prepare for a wild mixture of laugh-out-loud humor, sizzling romance, and a mystery just to keep things rolling. I love Jennifer Crusie’s romances, and Tell Me Lies sparkles with her trademark style and humor, not to mention sexiness, while telling a story that is likely to appeal to a wider audience, including fans of Susan Isaacs and Jane Heller. Tell Me Lies is a winner.” ~Under the Covers

“Smart, sexy, and howlingly funny. Having a bad day? Tell Me Lies is a mad, passionate and loudly funny first novel… is just the tonic to make you laugh again.” ~Tess Gerritsen

“Jennifer Crusie rocks! What Susan Isaacs does for suburbia, Jennifer Crusie does for small towns in Tell Me Lies is a mad, passionate and loudly funny first novel. A sexy, wickedly funny peek inside the secrets and lies of a midwestern town where even the good girl has something to hide, and the bad boy isn’t really as bad as he thinks. You’ll recognize Maddie and want to take C.L. home with you. This is hot, happy, laugh-out-loud fun.” ~Eileen Dreyer

“Jennifer Crusie is a real talent, and her novel has the wry lightness of one of my favorite authors, Susan Isaacs. The hero, C.L., is appealing and sexy, and the scenes between him and Maddie crackle with electricity.” ~Eileen Goudge

“Like Susan Isaacs, Jennifer Crusie presents a humorous mixture of romance, mystery, and mayhem. A winner!” ~Susan Elizabeth Phillips

“Jennifer Crusie is truly a talent to be treasured! Tell Me Lies is a mad, passionate and loudly funny first novel. is filled with the wit and humor that are Ms. Crusie’s trademarks. As with chocolate, all it takes is one taste of Ms. Crusie’s singular storytelling gifts and readers will be hooked for life.” ~Romantic Times

“You have to read Crusie to appreciate her brilliance… Although this is [her] first mainstream fiction, the novel has all of the warmth and charm readers have come to expect from this category romance writer extraordinaire…Tell Me Lies is a mad, passionate and loudly funny first novel. is grand reading written by an author whose star is just beginning to shine.” ~Affaire de Coeur

“Ms. Crusie’s ready sense of humor invades this story and, even though there’s plenty of serious material here, she makes it entertaining… Superb!” ~Rendevous