First Lie Wins Summary, Characters and Themes

First Lie Wins is a thriller novel by Ashley Elston, published in 2024. It tells the story of Evie Porter, a woman living a seemingly perfect life in a small Southern town. However, there’s a catch: Evie Porter doesn’t actually exist. The identity was created by her mysterious boss, Mr. Smith, who assigns her a new life and a new town whenever he needs her to complete a task.

The story is full of twists and turns as Evie navigates her fabricated life and tries to stay one step ahead of those who are trying to uncover her secrets. The book has been praised for its suspenseful plot, well-developed characters, and exploration of themes such as identity, deception, and the lengths people will go to protect their secrets.


Evie Porter, a skilled con artist, is hired by the mysterious Mr. Smith to infiltrate the life of businessman Ryan Sumner. While navigating Ryan’s social circle, Evie encounters a woman who looks exactly like her and claims to be Lucca Marino, Evie’s real name. This encounter throws Evie off balance and raises suspicions about Mr. Smith’s motives.

Evie digs into Ryan’s business dealings and discovers illegal activities, further complicating her mission. Meanwhile, the Lucca imposter dies under mysterious circumstances, and Evie is arrested as a material witness in a past case. With the help of Ryan’s lawyer friend Rachel, Evie manages to get released from custody, but her anxieties about Mr. Smith’s intentions grow.

Through flashbacks, we learn about Evie’s previous job involving a rising political star, Andrew Marshall. Evie cleverly manipulates events to protect Marshall’s reputation, showcasing her resourcefulness and ability to think on her feet.

Back in the present, Evie confronts Mr. Smith, who reveals his suspicions about Evie withholding information and threatens her with the same fate as the Lucca imposter. Evie and Ryan embark on a journey to Atlanta, encountering various individuals connected to Evie’s past, including a football coach and Andrew Marshall.

Evie’s suspicions grow as she uncovers Ryan’s connection to Mr. Smith. With the help of a hacker named Devon, she discovers that Mr. Smith is actually George, an associate of Ryan’s. Fearing for her safety, Evie flees to Atlanta alone.

Through more flashbacks, we learn about Evie’s past with Amy Holder, another con artist hired by Mr. Smith. They faked Holder’s death and worked together to expose Mr. Smith’s true identity and his betrayal of a powerful criminal family.

In a final confrontation at a bank in Atlanta, Evie lures Mr. Smith into a trap set up by the criminal family. With Mr. Smith’s true identity exposed, Evie’s mission is complete.

Evie returns to Ryan, and they share their secrets and vulnerabilities. Evie’s past with Amy Holder is revealed, and they both move forward with their lives. Evie ultimately assumes Mr. Smith’s persona and takes over his communication network, becoming “Miss Smith.”

First Lie Wins Summary


Evie Porter / Lucca Marino

Evie, born Lucca Marino, is the dynamic protagonist and a complex character driven by a desire for control over her life. 

Trained as a con artist from a young age, she thrives in the world of deception, using her charm, intelligence, and adaptability to infiltrate the lives of her targets. Beneath her confident exterior, however, lies a vulnerability stemming from her troubled past and her yearning for genuine connection. 

Evie’s moral compass is not entirely lost, as she exhibits a sense of loyalty and a desire for justice, evident in her partnership with Amy Holder and their shared goal of taking down the enigmatic Mr. Smith. 

Throughout the novel, Evie grapples with her identity, questioning the authenticity of her relationships and the consequences of her actions. 

As the story unfolds, her journey is marked by a growing awareness of the fine line between deception and self-preservation, ultimately leading her to embrace her true identity and forge a new path.

Ryan Sumner

Ryan Sumner, the handsome businessman who becomes Evie’s target, is initially presented as a potential victim of Evie’s con. 

However, as the story unfolds, Ryan’s character reveals layers of complexity, blurring the lines between innocence and guilt. He is ambitious, driven, and willing to bend the rules to achieve his goals, as evidenced by his involvement in the black market brokerage. 

Yet, Ryan also demonstrates genuine affection for Evie and a desire for a deeper connection, adding a layer of ambiguity to his motivations. 

His relationship with Evie is a central element of the story, raising questions about trust, loyalty, and the nature of true love in a world built on lies.

Mr. Smith / George

Mr. Smith, the mysterious employer who pulls the strings in Evie’s life, is a master manipulator and a shadowy figure shrouded in secrecy. 

His true identity remains elusive for much of the novel, adding an element of suspense and intrigue. Smith exercises control over Evie through manipulation, threats, and a deep understanding of her past vulnerabilities. 

He represents the dark side of power and control, exploiting Evie’s skills for his own gain while maintaining an air of detachment and ruthlessness. 

The revelation of Smith’s true identity is a pivotal moment in the story, exposing the extent of his deceit and the depths to which he is willing to go to protect his interests.

Amy Holder

Amy Holder, a fellow con artist and Evie’s partner in crime, is a resourceful and resilient character who shares Evie’s desire for revenge against Mr. Smith. 

Her faked death and subsequent alliance with Evie add a layer of complexity to the plot, highlighting the importance of trust and collaboration in a world filled with deception. 

Holder’s intelligence, determination, and unwavering loyalty to Evie make her a crucial ally in their quest for justice.


Devon, the skilled hacker who assists Evie on various missions, is a valuable asset and a trusted friend. 

His technological expertise and unwavering support provide Evie with a sense of security and a much-needed source of information in her dangerous world. 

Devon’s character embodies loyalty, ingenuity, and a willingness to challenge authority, serving as a counterpoint to the manipulative forces at play in Evie’s life.


Identity and Deception

The novel delves deeply into the theme of identity and deception, as Evie navigates a world built on lies and aliases. Evie’s true identity is Lucca Marino, but she has adopted multiple false identities throughout her career as a con artist. 

She seamlessly transforms herself into different personas, each with their own background, history, and relationships. This constant shifting of identity raises questions about the nature of self and the authenticity of relationships formed under false pretenses. 

The novel also explores the toll that deception takes on Evie’s psychological well-being, as she struggles to maintain her various facades while grappling with her own fractured sense of self.

Trust and Betrayal

Trust and betrayal are recurring motifs in the novel, as Evie’s world is filled with individuals who are not what they seem. 

Evie’s employer, Mr. Smith, operates in the shadows, manipulating people’s lives for his own gain. He sends Evie on missions with limited information, forcing her to rely on her instincts and resourcefulness. 

The novel also explores the complex dynamics between Evie and her targets, as she forms intimate connections with them while concealing her true motives. 

The constant betrayals and double-crossings create a tense atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia, blurring the lines between allies and enemies. 

As the plot unfolds, the novel questions the possibility of genuine trust in a world where deception is the norm.

Morality and Redemption

The novel raises questions about morality and the possibility of redemption in a world of deceit. 

Evie, as a con artist, has built a career on manipulating and deceiving others. However, as the story progresses, we see glimpses of her conscience and a desire for a different life. 

She forms genuine connections with some of her targets, questioning the morality of her actions. The novel explores the idea that even those who have lived a life of deception can find redemption and seek a path towards honesty and integrity. 

Evie’s journey towards self-discovery and her attempts to make amends for her past actions suggest that change and personal growth are possible, even in the darkest of circumstances.

Power and Manipulation

The theme of power and manipulation is evident in the novel’s exploration of the dynamics between Evie, her employer Mr. Smith, and the various individuals she encounters. 

Mr. Smith wields power over Evie by controlling her assignments and manipulating her into doing his bidding. Evie, in turn, uses her skills of deception and manipulation to gain power over her targets, infiltrating their lives and extracting information. 

The novel delves into the corrupting influence of power and the ways in which individuals can be manipulated and exploited.

It also examines the potential for individuals to reclaim their power and resist manipulation, as Evie ultimately does when she challenges Mr. Smith’s authority and takes control of her own destiny.