Southeast Missouri State University Press

Southeast Missouri State University

Rules for Lying

Anne Corbitt

Winner Nilsen Prize for a First Novel
Publication: September 1, 2016
Pages: 312

After school, custodian Oliver Nix investigates a strange sound coming from the boys’ locker room. What he finds rocks this suburban Atlanta community.
Langley, a sophomore, claims she was forced, but Kevin, the accused, insists on his innocence while plotting his path out of town. His mother, Grace, defends her son despite having made a similar accusation twenty years before. Eleanor, Oliver’s daughter, tries to reconcile her loyalty to best friend Langley, who created the rules for lying, with her unrequited love for Kevin.
Rules for Lying follows the characters through a police investigation that makes them question their memories, allegiances, and actions, all while hiding secrets of their own.


“AC has written a novel that crackles with suspense and energy, that shows how one event can knock an entire community off its wheels. The real beauty of this book, though, is that everyone is complicit, no one let off the hook, and as Corbitt plumbs deeper and deeper into the psyches of her wonderfully drawn characters, we feel ourselves pulled down with them in a living nightmare. To put it bluntly, I haven’t turned pages this fast in a while. You should read this book. Now, today.”

—Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

“Somewhere between the truth and those things we might never know lies Anne Corbitt’s fierce, jazzed-up novel, Rules for Lying. Leaping from voice to pitch-perfect voice, Corbitt’s story of a high-school community trying to make sense of a single moment of either passion or violence becomes much more than a he-said, she-said: it chases instead the ways one life can unravel another. Exquisitely plotted, endlessly surprising, and so real it hurts, Rules for Lying speaks to the darkest—and then most hopeful—places inside us all.”

—Drew Perry, author of Kids These Days

“Anne Corbitt’s impressive debut novel is as much a mystery as it is a cautionary tale. Teenagers and adults alike; be warned. There is no such thing as a harmless lie and there is no un-saying what has already been said. This book is quick and dramatic, timely and tragic. It should be required reading for anyone who thinks they won’t be found out.”

—M.O. Walsh, New York Times bestselling author of My Sunshine Away

Paperback, $15.00
ISBN: 978-0-9962596-7-5

Available Now