BURNING GIRL by Ben Neihart


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A transgressive thriller from the author of Hey, Joe (1996), describing the troubles of a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who’s taken up by rich friends and given a brutal introduction to life in the fast lane. Drew Burke is a poor boy from New Orleans who won a scholarship and headed east to study at Johns Hopkins. There, he met Bahar Richards, and she and Drew quickly become best friends. Bahar is smart, chic—and utterly manipulative. Although her relations with Drew are not wholly platonic, she’s instrumental in hooking him up with her bisexual brother Jake, and she watches over their budding relationship with all the self-satisfaction of a confirmed matchmaker. While he finds their life of privilege easy to adapt to, Drew has to admit that he doesn—t know these people very well, and when Jake hands him a sheaf of newspaper clippings and tells him that he loves him and wants him to know all about “what happened,” Drew quickly discovers that he’s gotten into something way over his head. Apparently, years before, Jake and his friend Troy were tried for the rape and murder of Allison Myers, a poor girl from a local high school. Jake pleaded innocent and was acquitted, but there are still enough loose ends about the case to give Drew pause—especially as Bahar refuses to discuss it with him. As he tries to sort out the mystery of Allison’s death, Drew finds himself confronted with the far greater enigma of Jake and Bahar’s lives. Are they what they seem to be? And just what do they want from Drew? Soon enough, Drew discovers that his story is not one of social climbing, but sheer survival. The author’s annoying use of, like, MTV English and his Brett Easton Ellis—ish obsession with brand names (just what is the difference between a BMW 318ti and a BMW 540i?) can—t suffocate this chilling and delightfully lurid tale—though at times it’s touch-and-go. (Author tour/NPR satellite tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-15691-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999


NonfictionROUGH AMUSEMENTS by Ben Neihart
by Ben Neihart
FictionHEY, JOE by Ben Neihart
by Ben Neihart