„Tell Me Lies“ by Jennifer Crusie

Jennifer Crusie\'s Tell Me Lies deals with social problems like infidelity, domestic violence, divorce and the tragic consequences they have on the innocent children who are told nothing but lies even as their family crumbles around them. Crusie deftly touches on how people base their entire lives on nothing but lies that ultimately come down to nothing.

The story begins in the most unexpected and unusual way, when Maddie Faraday finds a pair of black lace panties that do not belong to her under the front seat of her husband Brent’s Cadillac. She tries to hide them from her prying neighbors and her 8-year old daughter, Emily, by passing them off as a new kind of scrubbing sponge. Her husband does not top her list of favorite people on the best of days, but this is simply too much. Evidently Brent has started cheating on her again and Maddie hopes with relief that at long last she can leave him for good. But two obstacles stand in the way – her daughter Emily, who dearly loves her father, and Maddie’s reputation as a perfect lady in the town of Frog Point, Ohio. She has got a supposedly fairy-tale marriage in the eyes of her gossipy neighbors. She has never done a thing to make her the target of the vicious gossips in town, headed by Maddie’s own mother. And then the doorbell rings and she is face-to-face with C.L. Sturgis, the wild guy she had a one-night stand with back in high school, and has not seen in twenty years. He just shows up in his flashy red Mustang and starts haunting her doorstep in an effort to locate Brent, who has become suspiciously elusive. C.L. is doing this simply as a favor to his ex-wife. His job is to examine the books at the local construction company owned by Howie and Treva Basset, and Brent and Maddie Farady, but to do that he needs Brent’s permission. And as he tries to find Brent he discovers something else instead – his feelings for Maddie still being there.

C.L. was the town bad boy way back when. From the first moment C.L. and Maddie met in high-school, they struck sparks off each other. They still do when they meet again twenty years later, even though Maddie tries to resist it at first, but as time goes by, an enraged and reckless Maddie decides to turn the clock back and recreate those passionate moments she once shared with C.L., and she succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. Finally C.L. makes it very clear that he wants Maddie to be his; he loves her and wants to marry her.

But things start going downhill when Maddie discovers that Brent has been stealing money from the company. When Maddie finally confronts him about the affair he is having he almost goes ballistic on her and nobody believes that she got the bruises running into the door. Quiet and observant throughout is little Emily, who knows that things are rapidly deteriorating between her parents and is helpless to do anything about it. All she wants is her parents back together, even if they never talk or joke like normal parents. Her best friend Treva seems to be really interested in bringing Brent down and Maddie starts to suspect if it is out of loyalty for her, or if she has an ulterior motive.

Then Maddie gets a phone call from Candace who works at the bank. Apparently Maddie’s account is empty and her checks have bounced. Candace then suggests her to check her safe-deposit box. Maddie finds Em’s and Brent’s passports, two plane tickets to Rio de Janeiro and an enormous amount of hundred dollar bills there and she is sure that Brent is going to take Em away from her. She grabs the passport, gets Em and goes over to Treva’s place to hide Em. She leaves Em who does not suspect anything there and goes home where she spends a passionate night with C.L.

All hell breaks loose when the sheriff calls Maddie in the morning to tell her that Brent has been murdered. C.L. answers the phone, and Maddie becomes the prime suspect in her own husband’s