New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline says, "If you haven't read Hank Phillippi Ryan yet, you should." Well, I always read whatever Lisa writes and I love it, so if she said to do it, that's that. And for the record, I also always read whatever Hank Phillippi Ryan writes and I love that, too. Charlotte McNalley and Jane Ryland are strong, complex women you can identify with and admire. But with her newest standalone thriller Trust Me, Ryan has outdone herself. Her previous novels are just a little past cozy, but there is nothing at all cozy about this story. It's a next-level thriller, and it is an excellent one. The basics of the story are simple: journalist Mercer Hennessey lost her husband and young daughter over a year ago and is still living in a fog of grief. Vain, selfish, totally unlikable Ashlyn Bryant is on trial for murdering her two-year old daughter and dumping her body in Boston Harbor. Mercer's former editor and friend Katherine Craft wants Mercer to watch the trial on the same video feed used by TV stations covering it and write a true crime book about it. When the trial is finished the book will be finished, too. Instant bestseller. To say any more about the details of the story other than that things don't go quite according to plan would give too much away. What I want to focus on instead is how spellbinding Trust Me is and how it made me feel. About a quarter of the way in I decided there was really nothing else I had to do besides read this book! I read on until my Kindle ran down; I switched to my phone app so I could finish. Time well spent. Trust Me gets off to a very powerful start. It's fast pace never lets up. It feels like you are in the newsroom and helping to write the story. Award-winning author and investigative report Hank Phillippi Ryan knows her stuff and it shows. I was drawn in not only by Mercer and Ashlyn and their stories, but by the idea of trust itself. Do we ever really know all or is there always something hidden? Is the news true? Do we ever know enough to trust, or do we just convince ourselves to believe - about others and about ourselves and what we see and what they say. Ryan's journalistic background gives her stories and characters extraordinary depth and believability. Ashlyn is selfish and manipulative and has either had the most extraordinary experiences or is the most extraordinary pathological liar. But does this make her a baby killer? You can't possibly like Ashlyn, but can you feel sorry for her? Can you believe her? Mercer's behavior is unsettling as well. You feel her bone-shattering grief, but right from the start I also felt there was just a little that hadn't yet been revealed, and it made me uncomfortable and afraid to fully trust her. Was she a liar? Did she forget or block painful things? Or has grief driven her crazy? Some of her thoughts are cryptic, like when she says she let Dex down once, and then did something to win back Dex's approval, and you don't know how to take them. Some of her actions, like telling what she learns about Juror G, seem like the right thing to do but a huge mistake at the same time. So many of her actions are hard to understand, but you want to believe her, so that when she begins to suspect everyone's behavior and fear them, you suspect and fear them, too. After the verdict, what does Ashlyn mean by, "Only with you, Mercer?" Ryan uses her knowledge of journalism and the law to make Trust Me a twisty, suspense-filled thriller that keeps you wondering if every action will be a major turning point and big reveal. Well, keep guessing, but you won't figure it out! Mercer is on a deadline and writing the book in real time. The book is practically writing itself; she has written half a book when the trial has barely started. It seems like Mercer the Journalist is back! But then at one point she thinks to herself, "This is the problem with being a writer. It's natural to make up the scariest possible scenario, with the most sinister plot, because that's the best possible story. Real life is seldom as dramatic." And then I realized that Mercer, probably like most writers, is on the outside watching for the most part, and must interpret events based on her perspective. With that, author Hank Phillippi Ryan provided Insight into the world of journalism that I had never even thought about, and that was maybe even scarier than what was going on with Mercer and Ashlyn because it's about us. I am not criticizing or impugning journalists at all, Ryan is a well-respected, much-awarded journalist, but we believe the news because somebody official tells us, and true crime stories are, well, true. We don't think about where all that detail came from. In Trust Me, Ryan shows, on many levels, how susceptible we can be to hints and influence of others, especially when we are already dealing with emotional issues and our guard is down. How we can believe anything if there is enough detail. Not gullible, just susceptible and trying to see all sides - if you can't prove it's not true, do you need to believe it might be true? I was very fortunate to receive an ARC of Trust Me from Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley. The writing is fabulous, the story is mesmerizing, and this book makes you think. I couldn't even begin to guess what might happen minute-to-minute, much less before the end of the story. I was not required to write a review but Trust Me is so amazing I want everyone to read it!