The disappearance of two teenage girls from a religious summer camp haunts their co-counselors and draws them back to the scene to learn what really happened.
All of Rev. Jeremiah Dalton’s Camp Horseshoe is in an uproar when two counselors go missing, one after the other. First it’s Elle Brady, the beautiful but melancholy girlfriend of Jeremiah’s son, Lucas. Elle hasn’t been herself the past few weeks. Could it be because Lucas has been spending time with another counselor, Bernadette Alsace, or perhaps the fact that she's pregnant, a secret that led her to consider taking her own life on the first page of the book? Readers who follow Elle’s torments will see her choose to live just in time to get pushed off a cliff. But that’s only the first of the shifts Jackson (Expecting to Die, 2017, etc.) makes between numerous protagonists past and present, a device designed to build drama that also tests readers’ attention and patience. After Elle disappears, another counselor, Monica, soon follows. In a story echoing Elle’s, readers learn that Monica is pregnant, too, after having had sex with a counselor named Tyler, and then she vanishes in a chapter that leaves her fate unclear. Tyler’s girlfriend, queen bee Jo-Beth Chancellor, may have had something to do with it, though the mystery appears to haunt all the characters. Some 20 years later, the original counselors plan to meet and discuss the night of Monica’s disappearance to get their stories straight, though many of them, like the reader, don’t seem quite clear on what they’re trying to hide.
The laboriously manufactured drama yields so little payout that you may feel more manipulated than intrigued.