Lorna led her friendship quartet, so her death leaves her friends both grief-stricken and lacking independent identities.
Lorna’s bossy personality united mousy Jackie, rich-boy Finn, and utterly forgettable Lucas in elementary school. Adolescent sexual tension changed the group dynamics as Lorna and Finn fell in love, and predictably Jackie yearned for Finn while Lucas was besotted with Lorna. These existing fault lines grow after typically sure-footed Lorna tumbles into rough seas and presumably drowns. Then Lucas mysteriously leaves town, and Jackie and Finn find themselves growing closer—though he rejects her awkward romantic advances. Embarrassed, Jackie finds solace in the inappropriate attentions of a 30-year-old visiting artist, Cooper, whom readers will instantly identify as a sexual predator. Meanwhile, Jackie makes a disturbing discovery, and Lucas returns to share a dark secret, helping readers realize much more quickly than the dense trio that all may not be as it seems. What should be an unexpected twist is neither stunning nor believable, though the depth of the emotional manipulation behind it is surprising. Adding to the novel’s overall unpleasantness is the sexual-predator storyline, which resolves with a whimper rather than the bang it deserves.
Little enjoyment stems from witnessing the manipulation and bad decisions of these wishy-washy characters. (Fiction. 14-18)