After a hit-and-run kills a high school student, the court of public opinion convicts a lonely outcast.
When Jackie Reed hears her 17-year-old son, Wade, sneaking out the night before the SATs, she knows she should stop him; instead, she pops a Xanax and returns to bed. At 4 a.m., Jackie’s 13-year-old, Connor, wakes to find a rain-soaked Wade hiding something in his closet; he considers tattling but promises to keep quiet. These seemingly innocuous decisions come back to haunt Jackie and Connor the next morning. While Officer Pearl Maze was working the graveyard shift at the Havenkill, New York, police department, Amy Nathanson burst through the door claiming to have been carjacked. According to Amy, her screams summoned 17-year-old Liam Miller, whom the thief ran over during his escape. The cops canvass the neighborhood for witnesses, and the Reeds are stunned to realize that Wade matches the suspect’s description. Evidence mounts against him, and the community ostracizes his family, but still Wade refuses to divulge his whereabouts at the time of the accident. The book opens with Wade’s suicide note, then flashes back five days and unfolds from the perspectives of Jackie, Connor, Pearl, and Amy. This narrative shift maximizes suspense by forcing readers to guess at Wade’s thoughts and actions, allowing Gaylin to insightfully explore the crime’s ripple effects.
This anxiety-fueled stand-alone from Edgar nominee Gaylin (What Remains of Me, 2016, etc.) takes the gulf that naturally develops between teenagers and their families and stocks it with sharks.