A true-crime fan on the hunt for a story connects with a former classmate who may be a killer.
When 18-year-old Kiri Dunsmore becomes a suspect in her survivalist influencer boyfriend Callum Massey’s murder after turning up in his bloody sweatshirt, Samara recognizes her as shy Katie Dunsmore from junior year English class. A self-professed obsessive true-crime fan, Sam is always on the lookout for a story, and realizing that Kiri could be her big break, she seizes the opportunity to strike up a friendship. Though Kiri isn’t willing to talk about what happened to Callum, the diary she lets Sam read spells out how she fell prey to his manipulation and control. As rumors swirl, Sam’s developing feelings for Kiri threaten to override her better judgment, even though Kiri still hasn’t been cleared of the murder. Although Sam feels more like a plot device than a fully rounded character, the combination of formats—video and podcast transcripts, diary entries—plus plenty of red herrings add intrigue as the story tackles consent, grooming, emotional abuse, mental illness, survivalist culture, eating disorders, and social media. Undeniable parallels to the tragic, widely covered 2021 murder of Gabby Petito underscore the slippery nature of abusive behaviors and illuminate warning signs for readers learning to navigate romantic relationships of their own. Kiri is white; other characters are minimally described and racially ambiguous.
A twisty thriller exploring important social topics.(Thriller. 14-18)