Fifteen-year-old Maggie, or Mary-Magdalene, as her flaky young mother Roxanne optimistically christened her, hears a didactic male voice inside her head instructing her precisely how and when to kill individuals who have wronged her friends.
Maggie is compelled to obey the orders, and the murders come thick and fast. The first casualty is the abusive drunk father of her childhood friend and admirer, a nerdy boy named Lester Pint. Lester witnesses the (separate) murders of his father and an armed woodsman whom Maggie pushes off a cliff while they are on a nature walk, and he barely escapes being drowned in his own pool when the voice tells Maggie Lester may expose her crimes. By some miracle, she is never actually convicted of these inept and clue-laden murders. She does, however, suffer enough remorse to land in a mental hospital. Maggie has a checkered personal history to contend with. She describes herself flippantly as “the bastard memento a red-headed jackass named Lonnie Kraft left behind after he got tired of my mother’s affection.” On a visit to her father in prison, Maggie discovers that he is innocent of the murder of his deranged mother and that his mother heard voices in her head, just like Maggie. Maggie’s affectless first-person narration gives readers a front-row seat to her every thought.
It’s a fast-moving tale with an engagingly complex protagonist, but it suffers from its credibility issues. (Thriller. 12-17)