A Book Spy Review: ‘One Wrong Word’ by Hank Phillippi Ryan


USA Today bestselling and multiple award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan is back with another spine-tingling, nail-biting psychological thriller that’s perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and B.A. Paris.

One wrong word can ruin your life. It’s a fact that crisis manager Arden Ward knows all too well. She’s spent her entire career trying to help people un-screw-up their lives after doing or saying something damaging enough to negatively impact their livelihoods and reputations. It happens more than you’d think. And when it does happen, when someone’s really stepped in it, Arden is who they call. Only now, the tables have turned, and following accusations of an improper affair with a powerful client, it’s Arden who’s staring down a crisis of her own—and one wrong move could cost her everything.

Desperate to keep her hopes and dreams from crashing down around her, Arden is given a single ultimatum: fix everything within two weeks. Or else.

That’s easier said than done, especially when Arden‘s attention is suddenly divided after Cordelia Bannister enlists her help. Cordelia’s husband, Ned, is smack-dab in the middle of his own crisis following a recent acquittal for a fatal drunk driving accident he was involved in a year prior. A Boston-based real estate mogul, Ned’s PR hit hasn’t only ruined his reputation, but also his business. It’s also a nightmare for their family, including the couple’s children. Forced to live as social outcasts, the couple—who at one time really thought things would eventually go back to normal once Ned was exonerated—recognize that Arden is their last hope. Almost immediately, though, it’s clear that not everything is quite what it first seemed. For one thing, Arden is concerned about a series of threatening text messages that Cordelia has received. The unknown sender has threatened to go public with unknown details about the fateful night of the accident, exposing things that never came out in the courtroom. Then there’s Ned, who can’t seem to keep himself out of controversy, and soon, the police are sniffing around, asking questions regarding another “incident.” Knowing she needs answers, Arden gets to digging. But there’s a reason why people bury their darkest secrets to begin with, and as she slowly unearths a web of lies and deceit, Arden Ward must confront a number of truths that, if she’s not careful, could not only end her career . . . but also her life.

Hank Phillippi Ryan is always a sure bet to deliver an edge-of-your-seat thriller, and she’s done it again with her latest, which mixes well-plotted misdirection with even better twists and surprises that’ll rock readers to their core and keep ’em racing through the pages, sprinting to the end where all is revealed. While it’s accurate to call Ryan’s latest a thriller of psychological suspense, it should be noted that at its core, One Wrong Word is a fascinating puzzle of lies, corruption, betrayal, revenge, and dirty secrets. The real magic occurs as Ryan, with all the swagger and confidence of a seasoned magician, waves her wand, slowly but deliberately peeling back layer upon layer of truth while dialing up the suspense to near-uncomfortable levels. It’s a delicious setup, and she executes it to a T, taking readers on a thrilling adventure that’s every bit as engrossing as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, but with a quicker buildup and different narration style. Bottom line: Once the plot is rolling and Hank Phillippi Ryan grabs your attention, she doesn’t let up for a second.

Twisting, turning, and full of thrills, One Wrong Word is a chilling, suspense-filled thriller that’ll elevate your heart rate and have you glued to every single page.

Book Details

Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 250849497
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: February 6, 2024



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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