Cover Image: Simply Lies

Simply Lies

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Believe it or not, this was my very first Baldacci book. I don't know if I will pick up any others. His writing style just wasn't for me.
I can't really find the words for what didn't work for me. The book definitely moved slow. I found myself begging the author to just get on with it already. The twists didn't really surprise me. They flowed with the direction the book was going, which is a good thing. They just weren't big revelations or shocking.
I could go either way with the characters. They weren't fantastic but I didn't dislike them either.
Overall, this book was okay. It took a little too long to push through.

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David Baldacci rarely pens a boring book. His new book is certainly no exception. A stand-alone thriller, he features two strong women lead characters. One is a former cop, now work-from-home mom. A private investigator, Mickey excels at finding hidden money. The other is ... a con artist and possibly murderer. When the latter, Clarisse, cons the former into taking a field-work trip to a remote mansion to document the owner's possessions, she discovers a hidden room with a dead body and a secret message. From this unexpected discovery. Mickey becomes forced to pursue her own investigation and its a race between the two to discover the murderer, the reason, and the hidden treasure. With plenty of plot twists and villains, Baldacci interweaves the story from both Mickey's and Clarissa's perspectives. The book grabbed from chapter one and kept me guessing, furiously turning pages, until the very end. Another sure-fire hit from this great author.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley. I received an advanced reader copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Mickey Gibson, the single mother of two toddlers, is an ex-cop, ex-detective, and now a ProEye sleuth who is an expert in tracking down wealthy tax and credit cheats online. She is thrilled to be sent into the field to check out what assets might have been left behind in an old mansion but instead finds a dead body in a hidden room. It seems Arlene Robinson, the woman who called Mickey and sent her out on this case, is a con artist extraordinaire who simply lies to everyone about everything. It appears this is going to be a treasure hunt--can Mickey find the goods before anyone else?

This is quite a convoluted story with plenty of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. At times the plot seems totally implausible but Baldacci manages to pull it all together.

I received an arc from the author and publisher via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

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This book had a lot going on.

I enjoyed the setup. Trying to figure out the relationships of the players to the plot. The puzzle was interesting and kept my attention. It read quickly and I was entertained.

I don’t mind suspending disbelief as a reader but this book had so many plot points that I found myself rolling my eyes too much. How many times can you drug a character into unconsciousness before it gets silly?

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Baldacci is a great author, he has given us some great stories, with out complicated red herrings and false starts. Given this idea Simply Lies has no red herrings or false starts, it just lies! Great twisted lies!

Give it your weekend you will finish it with a smile of sweetness for the survivors

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If this book is intended (or hoped) to be the start of a new series, it's a solid start that sticks to a proven formula. There's a female former cop with a personal life in something of a turmoil, a potential love interest she can't quite trust, a seasoned ex-cop for a father, a self-centered female "accomplice" and a whodunit chase with the potential of putting her life in danger especially when she doesn't listen to reason (her own or anybody else's). So if you're looking for a gobsmacking thriller with truly unique characters, you won't find it here; but there's still plenty to love and if this does end up with a sequel, or several, yes, I'll be wanting to read them.

At the center of this one is Mickey Gibson, a single parent of two toddlers (more on that later) who works from home tracking down illicit exchanges of big money on behalf of ProEye, a global private investigation agency. She misses the old days of being out in the field, but she's pretty much resigned to a life of kid vomit, patching scraped knees and wiping up errant poo. That's a little easier since her parents live nearby and can pitch in pretty much on demand and she can afford a part-time sitter - both of which doesn't elicit much sympathy from those of us who went through the kid thing without the benefit of help from anybody else. Then, she gets a phone call from a company rep asking her to make an emergency trip to a house to inventory potentially valuable contents. When she does, she makes a find that will change the direction of her life - and not necessarily in a good way.

It's a dead guy, and he's not just dead, but murdered. At this point, Mickey remains true to her profession (more on that later), calling it in to the authorities. Enter Wilson Sullivan, a hunky unmarried (of course) Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent whom she finds intriguing but doesn't trust and who doesn't trust her (also of course). Back home, Mickey learns the female caller wasn't really from the company; but when she calls again to ask Mickey to find the killer, she seems even more evasive.

And that's pretty much when Mickey turns into an investigator who decides to eschew most of her professional ethics and instead follow instructions of a woman whose identity she doesn't even know - even though it could be costly to her career (i.e., the career that supports those two kids she basically lets run the household because, as she frequently notes, she recalls her own behavior as a child and identifies with their behavior that often includes the aforementioned puking).

Much of the investigation centers on Mickey's online talents of ferreting out well-concealed data, explanations of which were detailed but never fully understood by me (try as I might, I've yet to "get" the Bitcoin concept). The rest of her efforts were forays to meet people involved with the dead guy's past - including some her father knew of - people Mickey is certain are tied to the murder. Overriding the whole thing, however, is determining the identity of the mystery woman who Mickey is allowing to call the shots.

If all that sounds exciting, it is; it would have been more so, to me at least, had I really felt a connect with any of the characters and their actions (well, maybe except for those kids; even grown-ups like me can relate to dumping syrup all over their plates and fingerpainting with it - and if Mom thinks that's okay, well, count me in). Needless to say, there's quite a build-up until the finish, when things are sufficiently resolved and with fodder left over for a next edition, assuming there is one. Count me in on that as well; while this may not have been my favorite book by this author (who has always been, and remains, a favorite), I know many readers will love it. I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to get in on the action by way of a pre-release copy.

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Mickey Gibson is a former police detective and single mother who works from home for ProEye, a company that searches for wealthy credit and tax cheats. She receives a call from someone she believes to be a colleague to inventory the home of one Daniel Pottinger who supposed cheated some of ProEye’s clients and then disappeared. But she discovers a dead man (presumably Pottinger) in a secret room in the house. Turns out the person who called Gibson did not work for ProEye and thus begins an odyssey involving many people who also wanted to find Pottinger (which of course is not his real name). Prime among those is Clarisse who only communicates with Gibson by telephone pushing her to use her police skills to uncover the “treasure” supposedly hidden by the dead man.

This is a weak 4-star rating - not the best book by Baldacci that I have read but it still kept me turning the pages. There are multiple story lines which seemed a little far-fetched at first but as the story unfolds, they converge, sometimes in unexpected ways. You will be kept guessing as to who is who - many of the characters histories are troubling so their motives (and real names) in the overall plot take some time to emerge. The ending was a little lame as well although it portends that there may be other books featuring Gibson and Clarisse (not her real name to avoid spoilers). My thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC of this book which will be in bookstores on April 18.

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Wondering if this is the start of a new series. I could grow to like some of the characters but didn’t feel that attached by the end of this book. Usual plotting through most with some good amped up sequences to bring things to their culmination. Having lived in this area of VA for many years, it made me nostalgic to travel there in my mind. The author lives in DC so I imagine he cured writers doldrums by getting out of his chair for a field trip to the area for inspiration, Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review..

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A big thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for this advanced copy to read and review.

Another great read from Baldacci! I’ve really enjoyed that his latest character additions have been smart women. He weaves a great tale with many complicated subplots that all come together perfectly.

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This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart


Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I've enjoyed many books and series by David Baldacci. Simply Lies is possibly a standalone or the start of a new series. The main character is Mickey Gibson. She is a divorced, single mom with two kids under 5. She has been a police officer and works for a private firm from home searching for assets of criminals. I enjoyed her father, who is a retired cop, but we didn't see much of her mother.

The beginning was slow to read. There were a lot of characters and events, a lot of details, and other than the main character Mickey, it was hard to tell who were the good guys and who was bad, what was truth and what was lies. Mickey gets jerked around by a bunch of people who are threatening her family. It kept her on edge (and me). One woman was her primary frenemy on working the murder case. Mickey is a lot more calm and forgiving than most people.

The pace picked up and really moved just after halfway. Before that, it just seemed like an overwhelming amount of data but without the crucial facts to organize it. I enjoyed when she got smarter and figured out more things. I don't plan to say too much as I don't want to spoil anything. It was fascinating as she worked with her frenemy more and they develop some new allies. I wonder if they will continue to work together and this will be a new series. I'd love that now that I am more familiar with these characters.

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Absolutely loved the modern day setting and high tech plot twists! New and fresh with characters that keep you guessing. This is a longtime favorite author of mine with a terrific mystery that I truly enjoyed. The setting in Virginia begins with a very dead man at an old atmospheric million dollar mansion.
The global private investigation agency is an intriguing concept and I’d work there in a heartbeat. What could be more fun than tracking down criminals assets? This is who Mickey Gibson’s does investigations for. A call from Arlene at the agency begins the long con. Mickey has unwittingly been set up to find the victim at the mansion. She doesn’t realize until later that Arlene (or Clarisse, one of many aliases) doesn’t work for the agency. Who is she? Why target Mickey? It drove me crazy trying to figure out who she was and what her motives were. Of course the primary concern is who the dead man is, was he murdered and if so, who killed him? There’s also the matter of his assets, how much and where’s it hidden?
The plot concept is current and full of modern day crimes unheard of a few years ago. There’s a new type of criminal and new ways to hide money. Crypto, metaverse, NFT’s, it all makes a Swiss bank account seem obsolete. I found it fascinating and I enthusiastically recommend this book!
Many thanks to NetGalley for the digital advance reader copy of “Simply Lies” by David Baldacci, Grand Central Publishing. These are all my own honest personal thoughts and opinions expressed voluntarily without any compensation.

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There is nothing simple about the lies in Simply Lies. David Baldacci is about as close to a sure thing as it gets and Simply Lies is no different. Part fugitive hunt, part treasure hunt and part whodunnit all rolled into a heartbreaking fable about the horrible things humans do to one another. While being complete opposites, the two female leads are the definition of strength and intelligence and are an intriguing pairing moving forward.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a galley of Simply Lies.

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Ex-cop now turned single mom of two, Mickey Gibson, is living a boring life taking care of her kids while working from home at a security company when suddenly she is pulled into a murder scene. An unknown women drags her into a web of lies and deception on a hunt for a treasure. The only problem is that other high powered and dangerous players are in on it too. This book was a thriller with many twists and turns in the plot that really kept me guessing. I was always wondering - is he/she a good guy or a bad guy? Some parts of the way the individual stories wrapped up seemed a bit far fetched at how easily the big players were brought down being how dangerous they were, but overall, I enjoyed the book and how ended. It left me wondering if these characters will show up again in a future book. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ACR!

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Simply Lies by David Baldacci

Will be released on April 18 of 23
The audio version is presented by Hachette audio.
The run time is 11 hours, 45 minutes.
And features the voice acting talents of Lisa Flanagan and Corey Carthew.
My review is based on the prerelease written copy alone. Not the audio.

I will walk us through the plot set-up and discuss the characters and my grade of many things overall, but I will avoid spoilers.

“Simply Lies”
The set-up is shaky.
We meet our protagonist, Mickey, a single mother, while she’s in the midst of juggling her two small kids and her gig as a private investigator. She’s getting things done for work and dealing with kid vomit. It’s kind of charming at first, but is a gag the author returns to often…very often.
We are told that Mickey Gibson is a great online private investigator and accomplished former police detective...and also told that despite all her efforts she can't locate her estranged husband, who ran off with his secretary. Ugh. Okay. Odd inclusion.

We are also told how savvy she is, then we watch her fall for a ruse that paints her otherwise. I have some experience with big tech and confidential information protocols ... she bought a scheme as old as the phrase I'm using to describe it---hook, like, and sinker...which is ironic based on what the character herself says a few chapters later.
I found the opening to be telling us one thing about our lead, yet showing us another. The first few chapters of this book did not give me hope the logic train was going to be front and center.

Never the less, let's go and follow Mickey to a stranger’s house after another stranger (Arlene, not her real name) calls her out of the blue and asks her to do something supposedly work-related Mickey normally doesn't do. Okay, that's what we're doing. If this was a movie screening, the matriarch of a loud family three aisles up would be yelling at the screen, "whatcha doin?!"
I would nod silently, both in agreement and my own quiet annoyance, with not only the nonsense we’re witnessing, but also that I'm sharing space with a screen yeller.

Good thing it's not a movie and I'm not in that alternate version of this experience.

Back to the book.
Yes, the set-up is shaky—quite. And that shaky set up continues and continues and continues. Gosh. At one point in the flimsy set-up the part of me that understands the tele-communication industry, the world of big tech, and how personal technology works… put the story down and walked away to get coffee and reset. *that's not how that works, that's not how any of this work*

Moving on.
Once we are finally through the set up that feels way longer than it actually is, the story moves fast. Mickey was conned by Arlene (not her real name) to go to a mysterious house, where she finds a dead body in a secret room, and is now a murder suspect. Mickey might make every bad choice she could make in the first 20% of this book. She did not come off as smart, astute, capable, or a responsible loving mother—all things we keep getting told she is. Arlene (not her real name) the mystery caller, on the other hand does embody intrigue and, while also quite cliché, is very interesting. When the story is from her POV it works best.
Sullivan, the cop investigating Mickey for the murder we watched her fall into an obvious frame job for, is likeable and cool supporting character. But, this story hangs on the dynamic between Mickey and Arlene (not her real name) and their battle of wits that takes the reader on an adventure through crime, NFTs, thievery, prostitution, blackmail, and more plot-turns than many readers may have the patience for; only a portion of said plot turns feel earned. The ticket for buy-in to perplexing plot turns is pricier than it used to be. And that’s the thing here, this modern story, set in present day, reminds me of an 80s night time mini-series. Some of said miniseries were quite good…but most don’t hold up for the more aware audience of today.
Considering that, this book and the characters and the twists and such felt familiar. I suspect David Baldacci, like me, is a big fan of Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes, the massively successful 1985 novel, which was turned into one of the aforementioned miniseries in 86. As I was reading “Simply Lies” I recalled reading “If Tomorrow Comes” and watching the following television event fondly.

“Simply Lies” sets out to be a psychological thriller featuring two female leads in a dangerous, fast pace adventure, where they match wits and nothing is what it seems. Plus, it seemingly aims to be the start of potential series. It does all that, but it does not do any of it at a high level. It was a quick read for its length. If you make a deal with yourself not to detective the detective work or plausibility check the reasoning, it is probably a B or B+… but from a critical standpoint, I cannot do such things. It is a C. I am aware Baldacci is better than both this and his last outing, the “6:20 Man,” but that is not on display here.

My full review will be at youtube.com/thisphillipbrian

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A single mom and a former detective, Mickey Gibson is trying to balance life with two small children and her work for ProEye, a global investigation firm focused on tax and credit fraud. When a woman pretending to be a colleague sends Mickey to investigate a vacant home, Mickey discovers the body of a former mob boss who was in Witness Protection. Soon Mickey is caught in a game of cat-and-mouse with an unknown woman who has a deadly endgame in mind.

With plenty of twists and turns and strong female protagonists, I thought I would love David Baldacci's latest standalone psychological thriller. Instead, I found I was forcing myself to pick it up and constantly checking how much I had left. I just couldn't get into the convoluted narrative and found the story dragging too much. An underwhelming read that doesn't showcase Baldacci at his best.

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I have been a David Baldacci fan and reader for years. "Simply Lies" is one of his best. In the story, Micky is a single mother of two who has abandoned her law enforcement career to investigate online crimes. She is good at technology and has the analytical skills needed to be successful. Micky is contacted to visit a home and document what is inside. She thinks her employer has contacted her but finds everything about the case to be hidden behind walls of subterfuge. Who has set her up for a potential murder charge and put her on this dangerous quest to find "treasure"? Baldacci does his usual great job with the development of the characters and the plot has more twists and turns than a mountain road. The ending is a bit of a surprise and sets the stage for a potential sequel to the book. I hope so. Fans of thrillers, murder mysteries, and treasure hunters will love this latest in Baldacci's long line of entertaining books and this new heroine. Thanks to #NetGalley#SimplyLies for the opportunity to read and review this favorite author's book.

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Riveting, emotional and suspenseful, Simply Lies is a layered and twisting journey through the intersection of criminal enterprises and law & order. David Baldacci launches this compelling new series with smart female leads, despicable villains, heinous crimes and enormous treasure.

Mickey Gibson is a former detective now employed in the private sector as an expert financial sleuth, tracking down hidden assets by some of the world's richest crooks, cheats and evaders. Balancing this rewarding yet adrenaline-lacking work with being a single mom of two has worked well for her, until her world is turned upside down by discovering a dead body at an abandoned mansion while on an assignment that turns out to be bogus. Even more concerning is the phone calls from a mysterious and manipulative woman who not only sent Mickey to find the body but is now forcing her to conduct an investigation that puts her – and her family – in the crosshairs of some seriously nasty individuals. As the situation keeps getting more dangerous, Mickey realizes the only way out is through and that she will have to team up with the untrustworthy voice on the phone to take down the bad guys and ensure her family’s safety and security for years to come.

Baldacci’s trademark storytelling and character development are once again brilliantly on display in Simply Lies. Mickey and her anonymous cellular puppet master are both exceptionally skilled but also incredibly relatable and sympathetic figures that readers can easily connect with as the story unfolds. And the way it unfolds with twists & turns, the slow drip release of deep rooted secrets, and characters with uncertain motives all keep the conclusion in doubt until the explosive and shocking reveal.

David Baldacci is one of the most bankable authors in the genre today and he once again delivers with Simply Lies. It’s got everything readers love about his other books, wrapped in a fresh plot with intriguing characters and tons of future potential. Sure to be a bestseller, it’ll be fun to see where this series goes after a thrilling beginning.

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Mickey Gibson is an ex-Jersey cop, turned cyber security guru working for ProEye, a firm that hunts down wealthy financial criminals digitally. She's just a struggling single mom of two trying to give her best to her family and her job. When she gets a call from a colleague, she doesn't think twice of the request to catalogue the inventory at the home of criminal that ProEye has finally caught up to. That is until she goes to the home, and discovers a dead body. Not only is it not the home of who she thought it was, but no one from her firm knows anything about it. They were not the ones to call her. And the dead man...turns out to be someone in WitSec with ties to the mob! Mickey goes from suburban mom to murder suspect in the midst the most devious criminals who are fueled by greed and revenge. Mickey is soon in a race where no one is who they seem and she must use all her skills to come away from this alive.
Another engaging psychological thriller by Baldacci with a lot of new and interesting characters! Sometimes complicated and complex, there is plenty of suspense, computer crime and suspicions to keep you turning page after page. Simply Lies introduces us to two strong woman protagonists and delves into the most depraved of crimes. First in a new series? I can only hope!
Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for my advanced copy of this exciting book.

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I am a huge Baldacci fan, and I was excited to read this standalone psychological thriller that publishes next month - thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
The main character, Mickey Gibson, earned a theater degree while also playing basketball at Temple for Dawn Staley - talk about an interesting individual! Now a single mom of two toddlers, Mickey gets a call from someone at her remote job to check on a site near where she lives and discovers a dead body. As a former cop/detective, Mickey gets involved in the investigation, both helping the police with their efforts and helping the mysterious con artist who involved her in the situation in the first place. There were a few too many characters for me to keep track of, and the book felt a bit longer than necessary, but I was still sucked into reading each night this week, staying up later than I'd planned because I needed to know what was going on! If you haven't read any of Baldacci’s books but enjoy twist-filled mysteries with excellent characters, I definitely recommend checking his books out! My personal favorite is his Memory Man (Amos Decker) series, but I also read the Atlee Pine series and the Archer series, and I’ve heard excellent things about The Camel Club series.

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Thank you to the author, Net Galley and the publisher for the ARC of this new book by David Baldacci.

I have been a fan of the author's different series and books, and this one was another page turner. The protagonist is a single mother working for a cybersecurity/investigative firm with a background in law enforcement who becomes entangled in a convoluted web of deceit, revenge, and the darkest edges of human depravity. I actually finished this book in one sitting, but the one thing I had an issue with with this book is how the protagonist gets mixed up in the whole set up. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and wonder with the finish in the book if the author is setting this up to be his next series. 4- stars

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