Believing that the wealthy Gregory family is involved in their friend Willa’s death, a group of one-dimensional teen socialites engage in bumbling efforts to achieve vigilante justice.
Operating under the assumption that James Gregory drowned Willa, while his twin brother and grandfather used the family money and influence to orchestrate a coverup, Willa’s friends form a “revenge club” whose $25,000 dues payments will be used to expose the family’s depravities, thereby destroying its fortune and social status. The girls’ easy access to thousands of dollars in cash is only the first of many improbable plot devices. An overreliance upon convenience—and the inexplicable—eliminates opportunities for the clever moments of detective work that typically punctuate classic whodunits. While the book does explore important questions about money, power and privilege, the stereotypical characters offer few fresh perspectives and do little to distract readers from the spottiness of the revenge drama. (Country-club staff members are variously described as having “café au lait” and “coconut-colored” skin, maids have heavy Russian accents, and the rebellious member of the revenge club is marked by her “white trash” tattoos.) Readers interested in a protagonist’s explorations of her town’s chilling undercurrent of corruption and violence will find Lauren Myracle’s Shine (2011) more rewarding.
The disappointingly predictable plot and characters fail to deliver on the novel’s promising opening scene. (Mystery. 14-17)