The French Girl

The French Girl

by Lexie Elliott

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

I Know What You Did Last Summer meets the French countryside in the trade reprint of the exhilarating psychological suspense novel about a woman trapped by the bonds of friendship.

We all have our secrets...

They were six university students from Oxford--friends and sometimes more than friends--spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway...until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group's loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can't forgive. And there are some people you can't forget...like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine's body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she's worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399586972
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/05/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 171,013
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Chapter 1

Looking back, the most striking thing is that she knew I didn’t like her and she didn’t care. That type of self-possession at the tender age of nineteen—well, it’s unnatural. Or French. She was very, very French.

It’s Tom who calls to tell me the news. Perhaps that should have tipped me off that something was wrong. I can’t remember when he last called me. Which is not to say he isn’t in touch: unlike most of my male friends, he’s remarkably good on e-mail. I suppose I thought he would be calling with glad tidings: an invitation to a party, or a wedding—Tom’s wedding—after all, he’s been engaged to Jenna for what seems like years.

But what he says is: “Kate, do you remember that summer?” Seven years in Boston hasn’t changed his accent a bit: still unmistakably a product of the finest English schooling money can buy. An image jumps into my mind of him, as I last saw him two summers ago: his blue eyes standing out against tanned skin with freckles across his remarkable hooked nose, his rumpled dark hair long enough to curl. He won’t look like that now after a hard New England winter, but the image won’t shift.

I know exactly which summer he means: the summer after we finished university, when six of us spent an idyllic week in a French farmhouse. Idyllic, or mostly idyllic, or idyllic in parts . . . It’s hard to remember it objectively since Seb and I split up immediately afterward. I opt for a flippant tone. “Isn’t it a bit like the sixties? If you can remember it you weren’t there.”

He ignores my teasing. “The girl next door—”

“Severine.” I’m not flippant anymore. And I no longer expect a party invitation. I close my eyes, waiting for what I know must be coming, and a memory floats up unbidden: Severine, slim and lithe in a tiny black bikini, her walnut brown skin impossibly smooth in the sun, one hip cocked with the foot pointing away as if ready to saunter off the moment she lost interest. Severine, who introduced herself, without even a hint of a smile to soften her severe beauty, as “the mademoiselle next door,” and who disappeared without a trace after the six of us left for Britain.

“Yes, Severine.” Tom pauses, the short silence pressing down the phone line. “They found her. Her body.”

I’m silent. Yesterday, if I’d thought about it all, which of course I hadn’t, I would have said I didn’t know if she would ever be found. With Tom’s stark words it suddenly seems entirely fated, as if all possible paths were destined to converge on this discovery. I imagine her bones, clean and white after a decade left undiscovered, the immaculate skull grinning. She would have hated that, the inevitable smile of death; Severine who never smiled.

“Kate? Still there?” Tom asks.

“Sorry, yes. Where did they find her?” Her? Was a corpse still a “her”?

“The well,” he says bluntly. “At the farmhouse.”

“Poor girl,” I sigh. Poor, poor girl. Then: “The well? But that means . . .”

“Yes. She must have gone back. The French police will want to talk to us again.”

“Of course.” I rub my forehead, then think of the white skull beneath my own warm flesh and drop my hand hastily. The well. I didn’t expect that.

“Are you okay?” asks Tom, his deep voice concerned.

“I think so. It’s just . . .”

“A shock,” he supplies. “I know.” He doesn’t sound shocked. But I suppose he’s had longer to get used to the idea. “Will you tell Lara? I’m not sure I have her number.”

“I’ll tell her,” I say. Lara is my closest friend, another of the six. The police will want to talk to all of us, I suppose, or at least the five of us who are left; Theo at least is beyond the jurisdiction of any police force now. Probably Tom has called Seb and Caro already, or is about to. It would doubtless be polite to ask how they are, but I don’t. “Will you have to fly back from Boston?”

“Actually, I’m in London already. I got in this morning.”

“Great!” Good news at last. “For how long?”

“For good.”

“Wonderful!” But there is something odd about his demeanor, such as can be gleaned over the phone. “Is Jenna with you?” I ask cautiously. I’m beginning to suspect I already know the answer.

“No.” I hear him blow out a breath. “It’s for the best,” he adds awkwardly.

As it happens I agree with him, but it’s probably not the time to say so. “Right,” I say decisively. “Sounds like you need to turn up on my doorstep one evening very soon with a bottle of wine.”

“This might be more of a bottle of whiskey type of conversation.”

“You bring whatever alcohol you like and I’ll cook the meal. Badly.”

He laughs down the phone, a pleasant sound. “It’s a deal.”

It occurs to me he used to laugh more, all those years ago. But then, we were twenty-one, with no responsibilities or cares, and no one had mysteriously disappeared yet. Probably we all laughed more.

A dead body has been found, but life goes on. For most of us, anyway—perhaps time stops for the nearest and dearest, but then again time probably stopped for them a decade ago when she went missing. For the rest of us, it’s back to the same old, same old, which today means a meeting with a potential client. A very hard-hitting potential client: a contract with Haft & Weil could put my fledging legal headhunter business firmly on the map. I stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom of my short-lease office in Bloomsbury. Smart business trouser suit: check. Tailored silk shirt, clean and ironed: check. Thick dark hair pulled back into a tidy chignon and discrete makeup accentuating my green eyes: check. Altogether a pleasing picture of a professional businesswoman. I smile to check my teeth for poppy seeds from the bagel I had for lunch; the image of Severine’s grinning skull immediately jumps into my head. In the mirror my smile drops abruptly.

My assistant, Julie, looks up from her computer as I exit the bathroom. “The cab’s here,” she says, passing me a folder. “All set?”

“Yes.” I check the folder. Everything is there. “Where’s Paul?” Paul is my associate and a very, very good headhunter. He’s here because he has faith in me and even more faith in the proportion of profits he’s due if all goes well. I try to keep a close eye on his diary. Paul won’t stick around if the business plan fails to materialize.

Julie is checking on the computer, one hand working the mouse as the other pushes her glasses back up her nose. “He’s meeting that Freshfields candidate over on Fleet Street.”

“Oh yes.” I check the folder again.

“Kate,” Julie says, a touch of exasperation in her tone. “It’s all there.”

I snap the folder shut. “I know. Thank you.” I take a deep breath. “Right, see you later.”

“Good luck.” She has already turned back to the computer, but stops suddenly. “Oh, you had a call that you might want to return when you’re in the cab.” She looks around for the telephone message pad. “Ah, here we are. Caroline Horridge, please call back. Didn’t say what about.”

Caro. Calling me. Really? “You’re kidding.”

Julie looks up, nonplussed. “If I am, the joke has passed me by.”

I take the message slip she’s holding out. “She went to university with me,” I explain, grimacing. “We weren’t exactly bosom buddies. The last time I saw her was about five years ago, at someone’s party.” I look down at the telephone number recorded under the name in Julie’s neat hand. “This is a Haft & Weil number,” I say, surprised. I’ve been dialing it enough lately that I know the switchboard number off by heart.

“Maybe she wants to jump ship.”

Maybe. There isn’t really any other reason for a lawyer to call a legal headhunter. But I can’t imagine Caro choosing to ask for my help. I sit in the cab and think of ghosts: of poor dead Severine, her bones folded like an accordion to fit in the narrow well; of poor dead Theo blown into disparate parts on a battlefield; of Tom-that-was, back when he laughed more; of me-that-was, of Lara, of Caro, and of Seb. Always, always of Seb.

I met Seb in 2000, the summer of my second year at Oxford. Lara and I had been there long enough to stop feeling green and naive and not long enough for responsibility to loom large: no exams all year, or at least none that counted officially, and no requirement to think about jobs until the third year. Our tutors felt it was a good year to bed down the solid groundwork for the following exam year. We thought it was a good year to bed down in actual bed after late nights clubbing.

The favorite summer pastime was ball-crashing. Unthinkable now—to dress up in black tie and sneak into an event without paying, to avail oneself of everything on offer just for a lark. But it was a lark; no one made the connection with stealing that would be my first thought now. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time thinking about the law now, or not enough back then. Anyway, the point was never the ball itself, those were always more or less the same—perhaps a better band at one, or shorter bar queues at another, but the same basic blueprint every time. No, the point was the breaking in: the thrill of beating the security teams, and getting away with it. The high of that was worth far more than the illicitly obtained alcohol.

The night I met Seb the target was Linacre Ball. Linacre isn’t the richest Oxford college, and it isn’t the largest; there was no reason to think the ball would be particularly good. The only distinguishing feature was that Linacre is a graduate college: right there lay the challenge. Them against us, graduates against undergraduates, security team against students. Drunken students at that, due to the pre-ball-crashing council-of-war at one of the student houses that lay across the sports field from Linacre, where cheap wine was flowing freely. I remember going to the toilet and tripping on my high heels; I’d have crashed headlong into a wall if it hadn’t been for unknown hands catching and righting me. It occurred to me then that we’d better go before we were all too smashed to cross the field, let alone scale the walls surrounding the college.

And then we were going, streaming out of the new-build house to congregate on the sports field. The darkness was periodically split by flashing lights from the college some 200 meters away, the grass fleetingly lit too emerald green to be believable whilst the rugby goalposts threw down shadows that stretched the entire length of the field. Someone was giving orders in a military fashion that set Lara off into a fit of giggles as she stumbled and clutched my forearm. I glanced round and realized in surprise that there must be thirty or forty of us ready to storm the college. Lara and I found ourselves split into a subgroup with barely anyone we knew. It was hard to tell in the dark, but at least two of them were men with definite potential. Lara’s smile notched up a few watts as she turned her attention to them.

But there wasn’t enough time for her to work her magic—we were off. It was sheer numbers that made the plan work. We went in waves, ten or so at a time in a headlong dash across the field—how did we run in stilettos? I cannot think but I know we managed it. Come to that, how did Lara make it across without ripping her skintight dress? Mine ended up hiked high, dangerously close to my crotch. I remember the adrenaline coursing through my veins with the alcohol; the battle cries and the shrieks around me; the fractured picture when the lights flashed of black-tie-clad individuals in full flight. Lara and I huddled at the base of the wall of Linacre College, trying to get our breath through helpless giggles. That was probably why we got in: the security team were too busy dealing with the first bunch that surged the wall. I lost track of Lara as we awkwardly climbed the wall, hopelessly hindered by utterly inappropriate clothing and footwear. As I reached the top a hand stretched down from broad shoulders to help me. I caught a glimpse of gleaming white teeth beneath a remarkably hooked nose, topped by wayward dark hair. I grasped the proffered hand and felt myself yanked unceremoniously upright just as the lights flared, leaving me temporarily blinded, blinking awkwardly on the top of the wall as I tried to thank my helper and regain my footing and eyesight.

“Jump!” someone called below, barely audible above the music. “I’ll catch you.”

I looked across at the stranger on the wall with me. He nodded, gesturing to the black-tie-clad individual below. As the lights flashed obligingly I looked down into a pair of spectacular blue eyes: Seb. Of course it was Seb.

I jumped. He caught me.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The French Girl"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Lexie Elliott.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

Readers Guide for
The French Girl
Questions for Discussion

1. When we meet Kate, she is a very isolated character. Do you think this was also the case during her university years, or is it a more recent development?

2. Lara is unashamedly promiscuous. How does Kate feel about that aspect of her best friend? Is there anyone in your friendship circle who behaves in a manner that causes conflict among the group?

3. Why do you think Caro chose to work for the same firm as her father? Kate holds Gordon at least partly responsible for Caro’s difficult personality. Do you think this is fair of her?

4. Tom’s friendship with Seb would be more straightforward if they were not also family. Do you have a complicated relationship with a family member of a similar age?

5. What do you think it was about her break-up with Seb that left such a lasting impact on Kate?

6. Why do you think Theo took the out-of-character step of joining the army?

7. The characters in the book all appear to have changed from how Kate remembered them during their university years. Do you think they have really changed, or were her memories unreliable? Or did she not know them as well as she thought?

8. Do you think Kate is right when she says how “important it is to get the right fit when you hire someone”? How can a company or organization change traditional, entrenched views without bringing in agitating viewpoints?

9. Were you surprised that Tom didn’t suggest that Kate should consult a doctor when she told him about seeing Severine? What would you have done if you were Tom?

10. How would Kate’s close friends and business associates have described her prior to the discovery of Severine’s body? In what ways does the murder investigation change her?

11. Do you think a person knows him- or herself best or that our closest friends have a clearer idea of who we are at our core?

12. Who was your favorite character?

Customer Reviews

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The French Girl 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Elizabeth_Cam More than 1 year ago
What a thrill to have strong female characters take the reins in this 'whodunit' about six friends and a girl gone missing a decade before. But what makes The French Girl an exceptional read is the strong sense of place. It is not just a struggle to find out what and who the characters each want but a chance to vacation in the French Countryside and dine out with Oxford grads in London. Elliott’s mastery and insight into the social dynamics of high achieving Brits helps to raise the stakes for each of the characters and makes the reopening of the murder case a career-damning bit of gossip even before mention of a final verdict.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The character development was good, as was the flow surrounding the mystery. Very believable, esp. the outcome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth_Cam More than 1 year ago
What a thrill to have strong female characters take the reins in this 'whodunit' about six friends and a girl gone missing a decade before. But what makes The French Girl an exceptional read is the strong sense of place. It is not just a struggle to find out what and who the characters each want but a chance to vacation in the French Countryside and dine out with Oxford grads in London. Elliott’s mastery and insight into the social dynamics of high achieving Brits helps to raise the stakes for each of the characters and makes the reopening of the murder case a career-damning bit of gossip even before mention of a final verdict.
Valerian70 More than 1 year ago
The six of them spent a summer together in France and now the events of that time are coming back to haunt them. All the six have moved on to adult life, no longer the students they were then but nothing is going to stop them revisiting every nuance of that golden summer. Told from Kate's point of view we only really know what she knows about the events that led to the disappearance of Severine on the day they left the villa. This works relatively well as the story unfolds for the reader as it does for her - you see, she was only ever a bit player she just didn't know it. Sadly from the text you can see why she was more or less sidelined by the group as she isn't a particularly interesting character. This means that as she tells us about what happened on that last night and explains how Caro, Tom, Theo, Seb and Lara were involved you do find yourself taking it with a pinch of salt - as the character herself says lying is surprisingly easy. There is a fair chunk of the book taken up with Kate soul searching about her feelings for Seb and his cousin Tom and her attempts to set up a legal headhunting business. Most of which has little to no bearing on the events unfolding but are, I presume, there to draw us in to Kate's life. Unfortunately for me this just didn't work as I could not warm to the character at all. The plotting is good and there is a good build up of tension as the French Police startup the investigation again. Unfortunately this is derailed by the narrator on a frequent basis and I did find my attention wandering. The denouement is a combination of bizarre actions and startling inaction that eaves you feeling slightly cheated out of an actual resolution. It does have a smack of legal veracity with regards to the death of Severine but goes no further than that. Overall a little bit ploddy and could have done with a tauter editing to make a more satisfying read. I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The concept of the book was just great. A group of six friends take a vacation during their years in university and the mysterious neighbor goes missing. Ten years later her body is found and the death is ruled murder and they are all under investigation and was they have parted ways since university they are brought together and old drama is brought up and rehashed. I always love a book that brings characters back together and they have to wrestle with the people they were and are now. And the wonder is if they are the same or different and if you learn more about the person will your opinion on them change. I loved that throughout the book Kate's suredness of everyone's innocence breaks down and you see her start easily pointing the finger of blame amongst her former friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this book...
the-traveling-inkwell More than 1 year ago
The French Girl is a slow-burning, evocative mystery built off a premise I have so come to love: a catalyst in the present forcing characters to revisit a dark incident in their past and recolor it with new understandings. I was intrigued by the unique approach taken here, with a narrative anchored solely in the now and a greater focus on character dynamics than plot progression, but in the end, this book was a mediocre read for me - although that's not to say it didn't have its strengths. Where The French Girl shines most is quite simply its writing style. It's gorgeous and haunting. Everything is told from Kate's perspective in the present, and since I'm used to this sort of plot bouncing between narrators and timelines, I will admit that this approach felt restricting at first. Nevertheless, the limited point of view came to be something that I appreciated. You really have the opportunity to immerse yourself in all of Kate's frustrations as she tries to piece together the past. Her spotty memories are wonderfully hazy and disjointed; it feels like reaching out and trying to grab something only to have it slip between your fingers. The plot is slow-moving - glacial, at times - but even that can be spun as a point in the book's favor. It's realistic. Ten years after the initial missing persons investigation, the stagnant pacing at the onset of the novel feels true to a murder investigation slowly gaining traction. It also gives us the space to do a deep-dive into Kate's life; I loved how the investigation doesn't take over her existence, not at first. Her insistence to keep it separate from her struggles to run a solo business is intriguing and far from what I'm used to in mystery novels where the mystery tends to quickly consume the entire plot. Probably the most fascinating part of the book is Severine, the murdered girl, herself. News of the discovery of Severine's body causes Kate to "see" her everywhere in a vivid, tell-tale heart-like fashion. I love that this enigma of a girl is personified more as a figment of Kate's imagination in the present than she is in Kate's memories. Severine never says a word, and yet her personality is crystal clear. It's honestly quite chilling. Despite all the small tidbits I enjoyed, I couldn't really get over my main problem: that the slow pacing was never rewarded. It felt like the whole book was building up to something, like the calm before a storm, but it never quite got there. The revelations at the end didn't seem hard-won or deserved. It's an ending that doesn't package everything up with tidy bows, which I can appreciate for its realism, but I still felt a little robbed of my time when I had turned the final page. All in all, The French Girl isn't my favorite read, but it's a solid one. And it's a strong debut for Lexie Elliott, who's definitely caught my eye with her writing style. Can't wait to see more from her in the future! Warm thanks to Berkley Publishing for providing me with a review copy of The French Girl in exchange for my honest review.
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
In The French Girl , the ghost of a long-dead girl haunts Kate Channing, from whose point of view the story is told. I was suspicious of Kate Channing as the narrator; as possibly intended, I was convinced that she was responsible for Severine’s disappearance that summer ten years ago in France. Her jealousy and insecurity is apparent. She is part of a group of college chums, but she feels she is a fifth wheel. Her feelings are partially due to her less auspicious upbringing (relative to her posh friends) and partially due to everyone else’s relationships. Ultimately, she feels she is “less” –less beautiful, less successful, less popular, and less posh. As the French police put pressure on the group, Severine’s “presence” in Claire’s life increases. Both the police and the enigmatic specter of Severine force Claire to rethink the sequence of events that summer and in doing so, she questions the motives of each friend and the possibility of their involvement in the girl’s death. This thriller was nearly perfect for me. The steady pace allowed for the increasing tension to become palpable as doubt is cast upon all six of the friends. Ms. Elliott’s character development is excellent. There were three small plot points with which I struggled. Tom’s out-of-character reaction to a present-day encounter with a somewhat inebriated Claire seems only to be in place so the reader questions Tom as a possible suspect. Claire’s blindness to the obvious around her—both present day and in the past (no spoilers, so I won’t elaborate) are amazing given her obvious intelligence. Lastly, the implied paranormal interference at the story’s culmination detracted from the story…unless, the interference was merely a delusion of Claire’s. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Elliott’s thriller, but the ending was a bit dissatisfying. The epilogue to The French Girl made up for it though. Don’t let the word girl in the title fool you into thinking this is another “Gone Girl” or “Girl on the Train”. That word and the genre are the only two things in common. Ms. Elliott’s The French Girl is a fantastic debut novel and an excellent mystery/thriller. 4.5 stars
miss_mesmerized More than 1 year ago
It‘s been ten years since their legendary summer holidays in France. Now, the six friends reunite in London. They have all pursued their careers, found new partners and almost forgot what happened on their last day in France that summer. The French girl who spent a lot of time with them went missing, already back then a murder investigation was set up by the French authorities, yet, without success. But now, her body has been found, buried in a well on the premises and she obviously did not fall into it by accident. Kate does not have a clue what might have happened, she only remembers her quarrel with her then boyfriend Seb. But now things are different and soon, Kate finds herself prime suspect in a murder case. Lexie Elliott tells the strange murder case only from one point of view, Kate’s, which adds a lot to the suspense of the novel. Kate is telling her story, we, as the reader, only know what she knows, we only get her thoughts and thus are limited in getting the whole picture. Additionally, during the course of the story, you start doubting your narrator – is Kate reliable or is she lying to us and leading us to false clues? I liked this play with uncertainty and the fact that only bits and pieces of the whole story are revealed. The strongest aspect of the novel are the characters. First of all, Kate who is quite lively drawn, second and even more interesting is Caro whom you cannot trust which is obvious right from the start. But also the other characters are suspicious, Kate’s friend Lara and her affair with the French investigator or Tony who is making advances towards Kate. The story itself, however, does not advance at a high pace, at times you wait impatiently for something to happen. The fact of only giving one perspective, on the one hand, adds to the suspense, on the other, it temps to skip pages you to learn what actually happened because the information you get is quite limited. The end and the solution was not really convincing for me, for me, the motive was too weak to justify such an act.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars The French Girl is a story of a group of friends on vacation when the neighbor mysteriously disappears. Ten years later the case is reopened when her remains are found in a well on the property. These friends are forced to examine their friendships, who they were then vs. who they are now, and what could have happen to Severine. I found myself making guesses as to what had happen to Severine and found that I figured it out rather early in the story yet there were a few other side stories that I was invested in and had to know how they would work out. The friendships, the relationships, and the current lifestyles of the friends were all interesting. I was intrigued by the dynamics between the friends as they were all questioned by the police. I could feel the questions and the doubts as more was told of that vacation they all took. This was a slow mystery/thriller. As the story went on, I got more involved, and it moved a little faster. Usually I’d quit a slow read but this was a good book. I had to know, I couldn’t stop, and I am glad that I finished it. I’d recommend picking up your own copy.
booklover- More than 1 year ago
Ten years ago, a group of 6 college friends spent a week in France. The neighbor was Severine, who all the guys liked and the girls tolerated. The day they left to go back to school, Severine was never seen again. Severine's bones have been found. Forensics show that she may have been murdered. Sine the friends were the last to see her, they are all suspects. The story is told with Kate Channing's voice. She had a fight with her boyfriend and he promptly slept with the French girl. They have not spoken since. Caro had a thing for Kate's boyfriend ... did she kill who she thought the competition was? Illegal drugs were sneaked in and there was lots of alcohol involved with everything they did. After that week, none of them have been the same. They all have secrets... some shared, some not. When the police investigation reopens, fingers start pointing. This was a very well written story. Through Kate's voice, the reader can follow what she remembers .. and what she conceals. Relationships among the friends have been uncomfortable .. and some have been severed. The characters are sharply defined ... and memorable. The ending came as quite a surprise. Many thanks to the author / Berkley Publishing / Edelweiss for the advanced digital copy. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
jojosmodernlife More than 1 year ago
Kate Channing is stressed out with starting her own business and looking so far in the future that she is blindsided when the past catches up to her. 10 years ago, she and some friends went on a holiday at a farmhouse out in the country, not everyone survives. What happened that day has haunted the survivors for the past ten years and now the case has been reopened. The investigation brings most of that group back together but so much has changed. This brings them each to ask the same questions: What happened that day? How well can you really know your friends? I enjoy reading murder mysteries as well as stories about secrets within friendships. This book was well paced, however, I could tell who the murderer was fairly early in the story and the other red herrings were not strong enough to sway me. I did not really care for any of the characters, least of all pathetic Seb. I did not particularly like the narrating character, Kate, although her dark humor did have me chuckle a time or two. Another thing that I did not particularly care for about the book was that justice does not really ever come for the deceased. The story is confessed but there is only social reprimand for the villain, not anything legally, which could have caused a stronger conclusion in my opinion. Two things were rather distracting for me: Kate's business and the ghost haunting. Kate started her own business but it is on the verge of bankruptcy and she often takes off work to grab lunch, drinks, or coffee with a friend or two. Furthermore, there is an instance where she does not show up for work on time because she simply does not want to go in. Perhaps I'm a stickler for work ethic but that was distracting and irritating for me. Then the lingering ghost of the deceased was also distracting at times and even the main character states that she cannot figure out the purpose of the character's presence. On a more positive note, I did enjoy the eventual romance of two of the characters (I won't say which in order prevent a spoiler) and thought that was authentic and sweet. I would recommend this book for readers who like a murder mystery as well as a story on friendship. I would also recommend this book for those who are in/enjoy reading about the field of corporate law practice as that is included in the plot. Lastly, I would recommend this book for those who adore London as that is the setting for this book. This also makes room for some jokes about Americans that even I snickered at, despite being an American. I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended or triggered by foul language, jealousy, manipulation, alcohol use, drug use, mild sexually suggestive scenarios, murder, and infidelity. Please note: An electronic advanced reader copy of this book was generously provided by the Penguin First To Read Program in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give it 5 stars!