First Lie Wins Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide

Who is Evie Porter? That depends on who you ask. 

First Lie Wins is the perfect choice for book club if you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you guessing at every turn. At first, this novel seems to be a romantic story about a young couple taking the next step in their relationship, but it quickly delves into an adventure of lies, deceit, crime, and blackmail. This First Lie Wins book club discussion guide will help you keep all of Evie’s different identities straight. 

Our list of 10 First Lie Wins book club questions will help your book club have a deeper discussion regarding the themes of identity, forgiveness, and morally gray areas. This discussion guide also features a book synopsis, selected reviews, and three similar books to help guide your next read. 

First Lie Wins Book Club Questions, with book cover.

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First Lie Wins Synopsis

(We always chose to provide the publisher synopsis because we feel that it’s worthwhile to discuss whether the official book description actually squared with your experience of the book.)

First Lie Wins, Ashley Elston

Evie Porter has everything a nice, Southern girl could want: a perfect, doting boyfriend, a house with a white picket fence and a garden, a fancy group of friends. The only catch: Evie Porter doesn’t exist.

The identity comes first: Evie Porter. Once she’s given a name and location by her mysterious boss Mr. Smith, she learns everything there is to know about the town and the people in it. Then the mark: Ryan Sumner. The last piece of the puzzle is the job.

Evie isn’t privy to Mr. Smith’s real identity, but she knows this job will be different. Ryan has gotten under her skin, and she’s starting to envision a different sort of life for herself. But Evie can’t make any mistakes–especially after what happened last time.

Because the one thing she’s worked her entire life to keep clean, the one identity she could always go back to—her real identity—just walked right into this town. Evie Porter must stay one step ahead of her past while making sure there’s still a future in front of her. The stakes couldn’t be higher–but then, Evie has always liked a challenge…

10 First Lie Wins Book Club Questions 

These questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience, but if you want more ideas, we also have an article with 101 generic book club questions.

  1. Author Ashley Elston describes Evie as “morally gray.” What does she mean by this? Do you agree with her assessment of Evie?
  2. Despite taking on new identities, Evie never forgets her true identity as Lucca Marino. How important is a name to someone’s identity?
  3. The name of the novel comes from the saying: “The first lie wins… The one that changes the game. The one that is deliberate. The lie that sets the stage for everything that comes after it.” What do you think Author Elston means by this? Why might the first lie be important to Evie?
  4. Mr. Smith’s identity is a well-guarded secret, yet we meet him early on in the novel. Did you see the George/Mr. Smith twist coming? Why do you think such a secretive man chose to interact so closely with Evie?
  5. Do you have sympathy for Ryan? Or did he deserve to be lied to by Evie since he was also living a double life?
  6. What about sympathy for Evie? She started working for Mr. Smith when her mother was sick, and while working for him, there was still a line Evie would never cross.
  7. Both Ryan and Evie enter a life of crime due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances and family obligations. Does this warrant forgiveness for all the bad things they’ve done? Or the people they’ve hurt?
  8. Evie uses origami swans as a calling card. What do you think these swans mean to her? Why leave a calling card at all in a job that requires complete secrecy?
  9. At the end of the novel, Amy refers to Evie as “Miss Smith,” implying Evie has taken on the role of Mr. Smith instead of leaving her life of crime behind. Why do you think Evie couldn’t leave? Do you think she’ll be a better boss than Mr. Smith?
  10. Do you think Evie and Ryan will stay together? Do you think they’ll ever be able to truly trust each other? 

Selected Reviews for First Lie Wins 

(Use these selected Goodreads reviews to compare with your own experience of the book. Do you agree or disagree with the reviews?)

“This was one twisty rollercoaster ride! Not often do I come across a good con artist thriller and one with a female lead. Ashley Elston wrote a terrific multi-layered story with excellent gray characters that are fun and likable… Be prepared for this wild and entertaining mind game. First Lie Wins was very enjoyable and clever! Believe the hype, this was all around solid – the story, characters, and the ending made me chuckle and wish there was more!”

“I fell hard for the hype, but it was not meant to be… What it came down to was two things: boredom and disbelief. There was never a point in my reading of this book when I wasn’t experiencing one or the other. It read to me like a very cheesy undercover agency thriller.”

“I’m thrilled to announce one of the best action-packed, twisty, scheming, mind-throbbing thrillers with a perfect cat-and-mouse game that keeps you glued to your seats, eyes on the pages, afraid of breathing, and just reading till you reach the final page – much like an addict satisfying mystery cravings! Reese’s Book Club made a marvelous choice!”

“I started this book with high expectations, and it did not disappoint… At first. The beginning is clever and intriguing as you are pulled, almost magnetically, into wondering just what Evie Porter is up to. But the hook dulled for me as the story went on. If I hadn’t gone in expecting this to be one of my favorite thrillers ever (due to all the great reviews and ratings I’d seen), I might not have come away as disappointed as there were some unexpected twists, but also some that when revealed barely fizzled to me.”


Use our guide to find dozens of book ideas for your group.

3 Books Like First Lie Wins 

We’re listing three suggestions below, but if you want more, we have a longer list of books similar to First Lie Wins.

This was a Reese’s book club pick. If you like her jam, we have a ton of book guides for her picks.

Of those, some mystery/thrillers include: Northern Spy, The Guest List, and The House in the Pines.

Laura Dave The Last Thing He Told Me book cover

The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave

If you loved First Lie Wins for its thrilling story that unraveled page by page, you’ll surely love The Last Thing He Told Me. 

Before Hannah’s husband, Owen, disappeared, he smuggled a note that only said, “Protect her.” Hannah knew “her” was Bailey, Owen’s 16-year-old daughter who wants nothing to do with her new stepmom. After the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, and the FBI and US Marshal arrive at Hannah’s house unannounced, she and Bailey realize Owen isn’t who they thought and set out on their journey for the truth. 

This this one for book club and use our Last Thing He Told Me discussion guide.

The Housemaid, book cover.

The Housemaid, Freida McFadden 

Like Evie, this protagonist is not who she seems to be. Desperate for a fresh start, she takes a job as a housemaid in the Winchester’s home. She spends her days admiring the life the Winchesters lead while ignoring the increasing red flags – until she discovers her room in the attic only locks from the outside. 

But the Winchesters don’t know who she is or what she’s capable of. 

Unlock this mystery using our The Housemaid discussion guide.

None of This is True, book cover.

None of This Is True, Lisa Jewell

If you enjoyed First Lie Wins, None of This Is True should be your next thriller. 

On her 45th birthday, popular podcaster Alix Summers meets Josie Fair, an unassuming woman who also happens to be celebrating her birthday. A few days later, Alix runs into Josie again outside Alix’s children’s school, and tells Alix she might be an interesting topic for her podcast. Despite finding her unsettling, Alix is drawn into Josie’s strange and complicated life and can’t help but keep producing her podcast. Until Josie disappears, leaving Alix as the subject of her own true crime podcast, with her and her family’s lives under mortal threat.

And here’s our None of This is True discussion guide.

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