Trust Me: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Can you ever really trust anyone completely? Is there a time when you doubt their honesty? When your World explodes and the inevitable happens how do you move forward? Mercer Hennessey is about to experience a life changing moment when realizing that she needs to do something to create a new chapter in her life after losing her daughter and husband in a fatal car crash. Submerged in grief and hiding from the world a phone call and an opportunity comes her way to write what might turn out to be the next number one best seller. But, as we learn more about the book, the fact that it deals with a horrific murder of a child wills she trust herself to be open, honest and not judgmental or will she create the truth?
Katherine Craft offers her 15,000 dollars upfront and another 15 thousand when it comes out and huge royalties. Ashlyn Bryant is accused of killing her daughter, Tasha Nicole. Did she?
Reflecting on her loss and talking out loud she agrees to do it in memory of Dex for him her late husband.
Mercer was given a feed from the courtroom allowing her to hear and watch the witnesses and see Ashlyn and her reactions to the proceedings but the pre- taped interviews with her mother and Ashlyn were often quite disturbing and revealed a mother who cared little for her child, claimed her babysitter or friend Valerie had Tasha, lied about her whereabouts and even claimed she had a boyfriend named Lucas who watched Tasha too. But, when Ashlyn stopped bringing her granddaughter to stay with her and her grandfather, Georgia, Ashlyn’s mother got suspicious and wanted to call the police. But, Ashlyn is a liar and manipulative and often preys on her mother’s emotional attachment to Tasha and promised her that she’d see her until she did not. Tasha was found in a garbage bag and dead. She drowned but was she murdered?
Watching the courtroom scenes and hearing her interactions with family you know she’s not someone to trust and each time she says to her mother or anyone: trust me would you?
Mercer creates a second novel as author Hank Philippi Ryan allows readers to read her novel like an advanced readers copy filled with the story from the start how Tasha was found and the information learns from the tapes. Mercer hates her Ashlyn just like the public does and the picture painted makes you wonder how her Lawyer can even defend her.
Katherine keeps in touch, but when it looks like Ashlyn might go free and if she does, can Mercer rewrite the book in a different light. Trust me that’s not going to be easy and hearing Quinn the defense lawyer twist the words of the ME you wonder where this is going.
The trial is supposed to continue with Georgia Bryant’s testimony but it’s delayed giving Mercer time to write how just before Ashlyn is taken into custody she helps by pretending her daughter was inheriting money from an aunt and the end of the conversation allows a detective hiding in a closet and Koletta Hillary to solidify their case and get the warrants needed. Ashlyn lied about where she was and according to the department of corrections sitting in a cell fuming that her own mother did her in. Georgia told reporters that she knew Ashlyn lied about where Tasha was and that she supposedly was with someone named Valerie and that was a lie could she let her disappear again.
Ashlyn even blames her mother for her plight and tries to convince herself and her that she’s innocent. Georgia chose to bags Wadleigh Rogowiez and he wouldn’t have told Koletta Hilliard there were no missing reports in Dayton. No little girls with barrettes but she took action. Ashlyn would stick to her story and you know you can’t believe her or do you?
She doesn’t even want to know who killed her daughter she’s only worried about Ashlyn. But, a photo of Ashlyn would tell a huge story about her and her clubbing habits.
Things spiral out of control when the defense asks for a mistrial and the judge has to determine if it warrants it. But, a reporter fills Mercer in with information only he has and she shares what she learns about a juror. Is Ashlyn guilty and why hide from the camera? But, the reporter has other information that sets Mercer on many different paths but Katherine is only concerned about the book and hopes the judge won’t grant a mistrial but the final verdict but not the conclusion is startling and unexpected.
The verdict was definitely not what the public expected as Ashlyn was found innocent but the events that happen next allows the reader to know that Katherine really has only one thing in mind and that’s the book Mercer will now have to write but there is a twist that comes with that. Why would she allow Ashlyn to live in her house for two weeks to rewrite the book allowing her to tell it her way? Will it be the truth? Will it be redemption? Katherine baits her knowing that Mercer needs the money but in the long run what will the end result be and is she really innocent or is she so cunning and manipulative that she might deserve an Oscar for her acting and lying abilities?
As we get to know Ashlyn and the book begins to take on a new life you wonder just whether she is delusional or what she reveals about what happened to Tasha is true or false incriminating someone else and leaving you to wonder whether there is more to the story. Added in we get to know more about Tom and Georgia and then her ramblings stating that if the truth be told it would destroy her and Mercer too. Mercer learns that Katherine and Ashlyn knew each other in Ohio and did they meet in the club called the Hot Stuff and is anything that she knows about her friend honest and true? Then Joe the reporter that visits her and gave her certain information is missing when Detective Overbey arrives at her door. But, not everything is what it seems and Mercer needs to unravel her on guilt and submerged feelings about the death of her family before she can actually move forward with this book.
Hearing their conversations you wonder who is in control of writing the book and who is doing the interviewing: Mercer or Ashlyn. When Katherine goes dark and Joe is missing we hear Ashlyn relate something disturbing that makes you wonder if she recreates what she thinks happened to Tasha, really did happen and if what she says happened really did. Why didn’t she report it? Why did she if she did cover it up? Is she guilty? Trust Me she keeps saying that she is innocent but would you believe her after hearing all that she tells Mercer?
Found not guilty and the public might be outraged but now Mercer has to deal with her and you wonder what’s behind the sweet smile and veneer. Ashlyn wants to see what she wrote but asking questions and diverting her to other directions might help her learn the hidden truth. As she hears her mother’s testimony claiming she was a good mother you wonder just what kind of mother she is when we learn that she sold family photos for 20,000.
Listening to Mercer and Ashlyn rehash the events of what supposedly happened but there’s a serious twist whose life are they talking about and what happened to Tasha and what doubts are cast about her daughter and husband? Where is Katherine in all this? Both keep saying Trust Me but for what and why?
As Mercer and Ashlyn write and rewrite what each one thinks is the truth you begin to wonder whether anyone really knows or will reveal what happened to Tasha. Mercer falls prey to what she’s listening to and at times you wonder if she can tell a truth from a lie as the author creates doubt in her mind and in the reader’s as to who is telling the truth. Going out with Ashlyn and hearing her create fears about being followed, the fire at her lawyer’s house and the bomb threat at the courthouse you wonder if the truth will ever be found or will her imagination create enough stories that Mercer can write and rewrite several novels.
Delusional, honest, paranoid, trustworthy or plain pathological liar! Ashlyn Bryant VS Mercer Hennessey VS the truth! At the end when the harsh reality comes to light and the fog lift just what will Mercer see or believe? Who killed Tasha? What really happened to her family? Where is the line crossed and will the numbers on the mirror remain counting the days since her family was taken or will she move ahead? Author Hank Phillippi Ryan takes us into the mind of a manipulative, clever and almost convincing pathological liar and the mind of a reporter who just wanted to learn the meaning of two simple words and their hidden lies or truths: Trust Me! Can you ever really trust the words and actions of someone? After reading this you decide: TRUST ME!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ network/MJ magazine