JT Ellison is my go-to thriller writer, and I’m excited for her new release at the end of the month: GOOD GIRLS LIE. I’m pleased to bring you an excerpt from the book, so let’s dive right in.
“It’s understandable, considering. With some tender loving care, you’ll be back to yourself in no time. The loss of a parent— Were you close to your father, Ash?”
“He worked a great deal.”
“Ah.” The dean says this as if she’s heard it all before—the daughters of scions are often neglected by one parent or another. The pursuit of power dictates long hours.
“I do miss him. But we didn’t see him much.”
“I understand. And your mother. To lose her, too, so soon after… It’s simply tragic.”
“Yes.” I shut my mouth resolutely, praying the dean will take the hint and stop the inquisition. The way she speaks, a human ellipsis, waiting for me to fill in the blanks, is unnerving.
She does, changing tack entirely. “During our interview, we talked about the Honor Code, how important it is to the school, to our heritage, to our students. Absolute trust, that is what we ask. Lying, cheating, or other violations of the Honor Code will not be tolerated. There is no warning system—you openly violate the code and you’re out. Lesser infractions will be dealt with by Honor Court, which is run by our head girl. Do you remember the Honor Pledge?”
“Yes. It is protection for both myself and for the students around me.” I clear my throat, state with perfect clarity the words I am expected to say. “‘I will hold myself and my fellow students to the highest standards. I pledge absolute honesty in my work and my personal relationships. I will never take a shortcut to further my own goals. I will not lie, I will not cheat, I will not steal. I will turn myself in if I fail to live up to this obligation, and I will encourage those who break the code in any way to report themselves, as well. I believe in trust and kindness, and the integrity of this oath. On my honor.’”
This recitation makes my heart thunder in my chest. My hands shake a bit as I clutch the teacup, but the dean either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.
“Excellent. It will be up to you how much of your past you wish to divulge, Ash. I don’t see keeping your family’s plight to yourself as a violation of the Honor Code. I think the name change is a good idea, and support your decision to keep this unfortunate situation apart from your studies. Likewise, your status as a scholarship student is not something we discuss. Most of the girls aren’t even aware this program exists. Since your case is so circumstantial, it will behoove you not to mention it. Teenage girls aren’t very understanding in general, not to mention unaware of the issues with arcane British inheritance laws.”
Oh, the irony—don’t ever lie, cheat, steal—but lies of omission are just fine.
The dean briskly continues, “Because of your exemplary insights into Plato in your admissions essay, we’ve loaded you heavily into the liberal arts track. You placed out of math, so there is still an open slot in your schedule. There are three classes offered during that time period—French, Latin, and computer sciences. The former are eventual requirements junior and senior year and I highly recommend—”
“Computers, please. Ma’am.”
“Dean, not ma’am. And are you entirely sure? This isn’t a class to enter into lightly, Ash. You won’t be able to use the computers to email with friends back home or work on your social media feeds. This is a nuts-and-bolts education on programming, highly advanced and usually reserved for the young ladies who have shown an aptitude and plan to head into engineering and aerospace programs at leading technical schools, like MIT or Caltech. We don’t normally allow sophomores in this class, but we have a new professor and he wishes to expand the program to include all class levels. I disagree, but times have changed, and Goode must change with them.”
I feel such a sense of relief at this option, this one small thing I know I’ll be comfortable with, I nearly cry. “Yes. I am absolutely sure. I like computers. Not the social media nonsense. I like how the systems work.”
“I noticed you aren’t active online, unlike many of your peers. I was happy to see it. Unless you have private accounts we aren’t aware of?”
“Goodness, no. I find social media a waste of time. Not to mention an invasion of privacy.” She has no idea what an invasion it would be. I plan to keep it that way. All my accounts were deactivated before I got on the plane.
The dean smiles wryly. “Good. Computer science it is. If you do like this sort of thing, you’ll enjoy your professor, Dr. Dominic Medea. He used to work in Silicon Valley. And as for piano, you’ll be with Dr. Muriel Grassley. She is a Juilliard-trained pianist who has wonderful connections, so you’ll be able to work with some of the best programs in the country. She’ll be expecting you in the theater after convocation. I knew you’d want to get started right away.”
“About piano, I—”
A small chime dings, sweet and gentle.
“We’re out of time, I’m afraid. Take your bags to your room, and then change for convocation. I will see you in the chapel in thirty minutes. Welcome to Goode.”
Dean Westhaven turns her attention to the stack of papers on the desk in front of her.
I am dismissed.
About GOOD GIRLS LIE
Hardcover: 464 Pages
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (December 30, 2019)
Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.
In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.
But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.
J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.
Find GOOD GIRLS LIE
About J.T. Ellison
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.
Connect with J.T. Ellison
J.T. Ellison’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for GOOD GIRLS LIE:
Monday, December 9th: PhDiva Blog
Tuesday, December 10th: Audio Killed the Bookmark
Wednesday, December 11th: Jathan & Heather
Thursday, December 12th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews
Friday, December 13th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Saturday, December 14th: Girl Who Reads
Sunday, December 15th: Where the Reader Grows
Monday, December 16th: Buried Under Books
Tuesday, December 17th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, December 18th: Why Girls Are Weird
Thursday, December 19th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, December 20th: The Sassy Bookster
Saturday, December 21st: Jessicamap Reviews
Sunday, December 22nd: The Pages In-Between
Monday, January 6th: @thecityofdarkclockwork
Monday, January 6th: @girlsinbooks
Tuesday, January 7th: @lifeinlit
Wednesday, January 8th: @givemeallthebooks
Wednesday, January 8th: @everlasting.charm
Thursday, January 9th: @readingbetweenthe_wines
Friday, January 10th: @shereadswithcats
Saturday, January 11th: @basicbsguide
Sunday, January 12th: @notinjersey