I won this Advanced Reader’s Copy from a Goodreads giveaway, and it’s the first ARC I’ve been able to read before the release date. It’s pretty cool, I feel like I’m part of a secret club!
This story is sort of a combination of Gossip Girl meets How to Get Away with Murder. Since I loved both of these, this was a fun read. The first chapter reveals the scene in which a woman is led into the woods and she is obviously afraid and doesn’t want to be there. This immediately raises suspicions and adds a sense of foreboding throughout the novel.
Then the reader goes back 20 years in the past and is introduced to 3 college roommates, Audrey, Jenny, and Kate, who become fast friends. So much so that they are called “The Whipple Triplets” – after the dorm they stay in. They attend a very prestigious school, and they all have different attitudes towards it. Audrey is very poor and has worked her entire life to get to this school. Jenny is a local, and is determined to make the most of the opportunities she will receive from attending this school. Kate is the daughter of a prominent and rich alumni. She’s a bit of a wild child, and she tends to get away with it because of her attachments.
During their first year of college, they bond as they go through their rigorous coursework and deal with family tragedies. Audrey has the roughest time as her mother passes away and she is trying to get used to the environment at this school. She idolizes Kate, and eventually follows her down the path of partying and drugs. At the end of their freshman year, someone they are all close to dies. This sends ripples throughout their lives.
This novel does a decent job at showing the reader the way this college and the community sticks with the characters. The events that have happened complicate their lives, even 20 years later. The college is very much part of the community, and it can’t be escaped. As Kate says, “it’s a bubble,” everyone knows one another and is involved. Jenny and Aubrey both stay in town to raise their families. Jenny even marries a fellow alumni. This close-knit community makes influence and money very important, and can cause tempers to flare and bubble over.
This is exactly what happens when Kate washes up dead on the river during a visit. The chief of police is hellbent on finding the culprit, while other alliances are determined to keep secrets. This was really interesting to me, as you discover who is loyal to whom, and also who has control. It was a bit like political intrigue, but on a smaller scale.
I’m not naturally inclined to reach for contemporaries, but I think with the bit of mystery tied in it made this much better for me. This book got 4 stars from me on Goodreads.
There were only one and a half things I didn’t like. The half was Kate, but I think maybe that was the author’s intention. As you learn about her, she comes across as a very spoiled brat who uses people and doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings but her own. She sort of gets what is coming to her, but at the same time you aren’t sure whether you should be glad or not. To me, she was a pretty rotten person, and I’m glad I don’t have someone like that in my life.
The only other thing was that I felt the bits during their freshman year were rather slow. The mystery set up and the beginning just wasn’t enough for me to be invested in wanting to know about their background. The narration switches to focus on a different woman periodically, but I had a time keeping track of who was who at first. They just didn’t feel different until their experiences changed how I viewed them. This really slowed the story down for me.
After Kate is found dead, these college experiences show the different motivations the characters could have for committing the crime. At any point, I was leaning towards thinking someone else did it.
(The title had an interesting effect on the story too. Before you start, you think “okay, so the husband did it.” However, the content of the novel does a great job of convincing you otherwise – until the end. Then when you find out the truth, you close the book and you see the title. You think “yea, I guess so…” I appreciated this very much.)
In conclusion, this was a fun contemporary mystery for me and I enjoyed it. I’m so lucky to have won the giveaway, making me try this out. I will be keeping this book on my shelves, and in a year or two I think it would be fun for a reread. I wonder if I will catch some hints about the crime a second time around, rather than being blindsided.