In a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller that is more than it seems, an American teen languishes in an Aruba jail, charged with the brutal murder of her best friend.
When Anna Chevalier’s on-the-rise father moves her from her Boston public school to tony Hillcrest Prep, she quickly makes friends with the charismatic Elise, daughter of a powerful Massachusetts politician. They and their posse of rich and beautiful teens party hard and often; the centerpiece of their senior year is their unsupervised trip to Aruba—where Elise’s stabbing death brings their perpetual celebration to a grinding halt. Haas (who writes lighter fare as Abby McDonald) meticulously constructs the legal proceedings, the events leading up to the murder and the development of the girls’ friendship as well as Anna’s romance with golden-boy Tate. Anna relates them concurrently in a taut braid, splicing occasional deposition and TV-newscast transcripts into her present-tense narration. The zealously prosecuted and sensationally publicized trial spotlights the teens’ booze-soaked, sex-filled high life; social media postings and witness accounts put a public face on Anna that her anguished interior monologue contradicts. “Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?” she reflects. The technique masterfully sustains an ambiguity that fuels tension to the very last page. Occasional geographical errors will pull readers familiar with the Boston area out of the story but only for brief moments.
A compulsively readable, hair-raising snapshot of 21st-century legal spectacle. (Thriller. 14 & up)