My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publish Date: February 20, 2018
Thank you to Edelweiss, Berkley Publishing, and Lexie Elliott for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Six Oxford University friends spend a summer week together in a French farmhouse. It was perfect until they met Severine, the girl next door.
Severine undermined the close-knit group’s loyalties and amplified the already simmering tensions. And after a huge drama-filled argument on the last night, Severine was never seen again.
The six friends went on with their lives without a thought about her until Severine’s case is reopened a decade later, when her body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Who killed her?
Kate Channing, one of the friends there on that fateful week, is a suspect and being questioned along with her friends. She stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her.
Did Kate do it?
I love stories about friends, secrets and skeletons. A friend, according to Wikipedia, “is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” This relationship, especially in the Coming of Age years, has lasting effects and can be an even stronger bond than one with family members, especially if the friends have experienced stressful or traumatic experiences together.
I enjoy mysteries that bring the past and present together and show how the characters have matured and developed over time. I appreciate the memories that they share, and as we know, memories can change over time.
Unreliable narrators add another layer to the mystery, and flashback incidents add to the reader’s understanding of the full plot and how the past and present tie together.
This is definitely a fun read with a different twist.
Usually this kind of book jumps around from the present to the past. Sometimes the author focuses a lot of the book on the past to build the story. This book, however, focuses on the present time, which is ten years after the holiday at the French farmhouse. There is very little flashback, and the reader has to piece together the past from murky present day recollections of unreliable characters.
Kate is one of these unreliable characters and the story is told mostly from Kate’s perspective. Kate has just started her own executive resource consulting firm and landed two big clients.
The discovery of Severine’s body opens up a murder investigation, and her recollection of that fateful night’s events is unclear. Clues point to her as a possible suspect, and a potential arrest puts her career and her reputation at stake. She has a lot to lose if she is accused of murder.
Another interesting twist to the story is Severine’s frequent “appearances” in Kate’s present life. I felt that the supernatural aspect of Severine is intentional for two reasons: to reinforce the authors intent on portraying her to be an unreliable narrator, and to incite suspicion in the reader that Kate killed Severine and the hauntings are because of the guilt. I didn’t like the supernatural aspect.
Overall, the book has a slow but steady pace and keeps the reader engaged. The ending was a surprise and a bit unexpected. I liked this book and you will too, especially if you are into this genre.
Other Books with the Friends, Secrets, and Skeletons theme:
It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware