Summary, Spoilers + Review: Never Lie by Freida McFadden

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Three-paragraph version: Tricia and Ethan, a young couple, get stranded at an open house during a snowstorm. The house belongs to psychotherapist Dr. Adrienne Hale, who famously disappeared three years ago, just after the release of her pop psychology bestseller, The Anatomy of Fear. The book features one of her patients, “PL”, whose friends and fiancé were stabbed at a cabin. Tricia finds a hidden room full of cassette tapes of her sessions with Adriene’s patients. Through the tapes and flashbacks, we learn the Adrienne was being blackmailed by a patient, “EJ”, after she tried to terminate their sessions. He had a video of her slashing someone’s tires, and he forced her to continue their sessions and escalated to other demands. Adrienne’s boyfriend, Luke, broke into EJ’s place to delete the incriminating video, but EJ recorded footage of that as well.


In present day, Tricia and Ethan find a dead body under the floorboards, and they discover that Luke has been staying in the house. Through flashbacks, it’s revealed that Adrienne figured out that PL was the one who killed her friends and fiancé (because her fiancé was cheating with her best friend). Adrienne then used that information to force PL to help her kill EJ, hiding him under the floorboards. PL turns out to be Tricia (P is for Patricia). After EJ’s death, Tricia confronted and killed Adrienne out of paranoia that Adrienne would get them caught. Tricia has now returned to this house in order to dispose of EJ’s body (because she found out it was being sold and was worried it would be discovered).


It’s then revealed that Ethan is the son of one of Adrienne’s other patients, “GW”, who died a few years ago from falling down a flight of stairs. Dr. Hale had told Tricia about it and about how GW’s son had claimed a hefty insurance payout. Tricia had then engineered a meeting with Ethan, which is how they met. In present day, Tricia confronts Ethan about his mother’s death, and he admits to killing her for the money. Tricia then admits to her own homicides. Ethan tells Tricia that they’ll figure this out together. They end up killing Luke, burying Luke and EJ’s bodies, and they buy the house and start a family together.


(The book switches between Tricia’s present day point of view, Adrienne’s flashbacks from the past and clips from Adrienne’s therapy tapes.)


In Chapters 1 – 9, Tricia and Ethan, a young couple married for six months, arrive at an open house at an out-of-the-way location in a snowstorm. They use a spare key to get into the house and see that the house is beautiful but everything is dusty. They realize that the house belongs to Dr. Adrienne Hale, who famously disappeared three years agon just one week after the release of her latest pop psychology bestseller, The Anatomy of Fear. The book is about overcoming traumatic events and heavily features a patient “PL” whose friends and fiancé were stabbed at a cabin.


Tricia suspects someone else has been in the house recently when she hears noises, sees a light on, finds a footprint and there’s food in the fridge. But Ethan dismisses all of it as stuff their realtor Judy must’ve left there. Tricia also discovers a hidden room full of thousands of cassette tapes from Adrienne’s psychotherapy practice, which she suspects the police never found. She doesn’t tell Ethan because she knows he would disapprove of her listening to them, but she’s curious and wonders if she can find clues to her disappearance in those tapes.


In Chapters 10 – 27, through flashbacks to Adrienne’s point of view and the tapes, the book reveals that Adrienne was trying to terminate her relationship with a narcissistic personality referred to “EJ” on her tapes. EJ does not take it well and stalks her until he catches her slashing someone’s tires in anger after they steal her parking spot. He then uses the tapes to blackmail Adrienne into resuming their sessions. EJ talks about how there’s no point in getting a job because his parents will probably die soon anyway and leave him a lot of money. Meanwhile, Adrienne meets a man, Luke, who she begins to fall for.


In present day, Tricia listens to the tapes. She also reveals a secret she’s been hiding to Ethan — that she’s pregnant. She’s worried about how he’ll react, but he’s delighted. Ethan is wealthy and reassures Tricia that she doesn’t need to work and that he’ll take care of her. Tricia continues to listen to tapes, but becomes increasingly sure there is someone else in the house when she finds a newly laundered sleeping bag and pillow in the otherwise dusty attic.


In Chapters 28 – 44, the book reveals that EJ eventually escalates to demanding more frequent sessions and even forcing Adrienne to prescribe him medication. Adrienne finally asks Luke to help her wipe the video from EJ’s phone and home computer by drugging EJ to temporarily get access to his phone and keys. Adrienne hopes the matter is concluded, but soon EJ lets Adrienne know that not only does he still have the video, he also now has footage of Luke breaking into his home.


In present day, Tricia and Ethan find a corpse underneath the floorboards of Adrienne’s office. Soon, they find someone in the house and Tricia realizes that it’s Luke.


In Chapters 45 – 52, it’s then revealed that Adrienne’s patient PL is actually Tricia, with the “P” standing for Patricia. Also, Adrienne had at some point figured out that PL was actually the one who killed her friends and fiancé at that cabin (because her fiancé had been cheating on her with her best friend). Adrienne then used that information to blackmail Tricia into helping her kill EJ, whose body she hid under the floorboards.


However, Tricia had eventually gotten worried that Adrienne wasn’t going to be able to keep the secret of EJ’s death. So, Tricia killed Adrienne and disposed of the body.


In Chapters 53 – the Epilogue, the book explains that Tricia ended up returning to this house because she found out it was on sale and she knew EJ’s body was still in here and could incriminate her. She came back to dispose of it.


Meanwhile, in present day, Tricia finds Ethan buring some tapes of sessions with a patient, GW, who died a few years ago from falling down a flight of stairs. GW is Ethan’s mother. Tricia had learned from Dr. Hale about GW’s death and she’d learned that GW’s son, Ethan, had claimed a hefty insurance payment. Tricia had then purposely engineered a meeting with the now-wealthy Ethan, which is how they met.


In present day, Tricia confronts Ethan about the truth of his mother’s death, and Ethan admits to killing her for the money. Tricia then tells him all about her homicides. Ethan thinks and then tells her that they can figure this out together. Tricia and Ethan then kill Luke and dispose of both Luke and EJ’s bodies. They buy the house.


The book ends with them living at the house and raising a family.

For more detail, see the full Chapter-by-Chapter Summary.

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