Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan is a USA Today bestselling author, as well as the winner of the most prestigious awards in the genre: five Agathas, five Anthonys and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, with 37 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. Hank is a founder of MWA University, host of CRIME TIME on A Mighty Blaze, and co-host of First Chapter Fun and The Back Room.

One Wrong Word

One wrong word can ruin your life. And no one knows that better than savvy crisis management expert Arden Ward. Problem is—she’s now forced to handle a devastating crisis of her own. She’s unfairly accused of having an affair with a powerful client—and now her life and dreams are about to crash and burn. Then Arden is given an ultimatum. She has two weeks to save her career and her reputation.

Cordelia needs help for her husband Ned, a Boston real estate mogul. Though he was recently acquitted in a fatal drunk driving accident, his reputation is ruined, and the fallout is devastating not only to the Bannisters’ lives, but the lives of their children.

Arden works to help this shattered family, but soon, revelations begin to emerge about what really happened the night of the accident. And then—another car crash throws Ned back into the spotlight.

This case is Arden’s final chance to protect her own future and clear her name. But the more she tries to untangle the truth, the more she’s haunted by one disturbing question—what if she’s also protecting a killer?

Gossip. Lies. Rumors. Words like that can hurt you. And Arden knows the reality. Sometimes one wrong word can even kill.

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ONE WRONG WORD stars crisis management expert Arden Ward. And here, in her beloved office, she is about to get a surprise from her boss, Warren Carmichael. This scene picks up in the middle of the chapter.


Warren actually gulped. She’d never seen his face so ashen.

“Listen, Arden. I don’t like this any more than you will. But understand.

The Swansons are major clients. Lucrative clients. Company-supporting clients.”

“Well, I know. I brought them to you. When we met at my Saving Calico childhood leukemia fundraiser. Remember?”

“Oh. Right.” Warren picked up his glass, rattled the ice. “I didn’t think anything could make this more difficult.”

“Make what?”

“So Patience Swanson thinks you and her husband have a . . . thing. That he gave you the Joy.”

“The perfume?” Arden clapped a palm to her chest. “She’s insane.”

“Possibly. Probably. But that doesn’t change anything. She demands that we let you go.”

“She? Demands? You let me go?” Every nerve cell in Arden’s brain burst into flames.

“I have no choice.”

“Choice? Of course you do.” Arden took a step toward him, arms spread in exasperation and disbelief. “Who does she think put her husband where he is today?”

“I’m sorry, Arden. It’s a situation. I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t? Well, I do.” She jabbed toward him with a forefinger. “You can say ‘she’s lost her freaking mind.’ You can tell that woman I’m a valuable employee who brings in big bucks, and new clients, and will continue to do so. And who, it goes without saying, is not having some sort of sordid affair with her vile entitled husband who clearly she has problems with. But the ‘problems’ are not me. A situation? It’s my life!”

“I’m sorry, Arden. Unless you can prove he didn’t give you perfume. Unless you can prove he didn’t—”

She rolled her eyes to the heavens, then harnessed her outrage. “I’m not going to prove one thing on this planet. Ask him, right? First of all, I can’t prove something that didn’t happen, that’s through the looking glass, and I cannot believe you’re even asking me that. Is that what you think of me? Let me ask you that. That this is true?”

“No, of course not, no.” Warren lurched to his feet, turned away, not looking at her, looking at every place else but her. “He’ll deny it. So I can’t force him to—”

“Ah. I see. Warren. Look at me. So you believe her, not me? Is that what you’re saying? Because if that is what you’re saying, Warren, I could file so many lawsuits it’d make your head spin. Hey. You’re a pro.Imagine the headlines. Blame the victim? Or wait, would you paint me the vixen, the temptress? Oh, yeah, do it. Please do that. I’d love that. Bring it.”

Warren had to know this was bull. “Are you hearing me?” she persisted.

“Are you ignoring me? Look at me. I know the rules. I know the deal. You cannot do this. I’ll go to HR so fast it’ll—”

“Be careful, Arden.” Warren interrupted her. “Take a beat. If you sue me, well, that’s not gonna help you, is it? Suddenly you’re . . . a problem employee. A liability. On the defensive. It’s not a good look. You know that.”

“What I know—and what you know—is that it’s not true.”

“What I know is that if the Swansons leave us, if they take their billings, I’d have to fire three other people to make up for it. Do you want to be responsible for that?”

“Oh, no. No. That’s not fair.” Arden wiped away the space in front of her, erasing Warren’s words. “Do not make me feel guilty about people losing their jobs over a lie.”

“We won’t let this get out,” Warren said. “It’ll stay between us.”

“Right. Between us.” She choked down a bitter laugh, focusing her anger. “And Patience Swanson. And Arthur Swanson. And whatever gossip mongers and sycophant confidantes and social media jackals—I cannot believe I’m saying this. A secret. As if anyone could keep a secret.”

She drew in a breath, her judgment obliterated by expanding rage. Narrowed her eyes. “Unless they’re dead.”

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2 Reviews for Hank Phillippi Ryan

    Very interesting indeed

    Really looking forward to this one!

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