Some college friends revisit a tragedy that changed their lives and promises to do so again.
In this debut novel, Kate Johansen is a successful political operative in Washington, D.C., working for a prominent female senator. She organizes a reunion of her closest college friends—billed as a fun opportunity to catch up and reminisce—but her true purpose is to discuss a macabre trauma she once suffered and that they have all agreed to bury in secrecy, concealing the truth even from their husbands. One night the girls ventured out to a new bar, and Kate, who was underage, used her friend Eva Mendez’s ID to gain entry. Unfortunately, Kate was mistakenly identified by thugs as Eva, whose father was the Colombian ambassador. They kidnapped Kate, brutally tortured and violated her, and demanded a ransom for her return. The ambassador’s security team—aided by three of Kate’s male friends—assaulted and killed the two Nicaraguans who delivered the captive in exchange for the ransom. Once Kate was rescued, the team took possession of a file of grim photographs documenting her abuse at the hands of her tormentors. Now, years later, Kate and the three friends—Brian, Kevin, and Matthew—who helped kill her abductors are all being blackmailed, and they suspect it’s by the families of the culprits seeking revenge. When she tracks down Eva, Kate discovers that her father and first husband died under mysterious circumstances and that she’s now married to the vice president of Nicaragua. After an attempt is made to kill Brian, Kevin, and Matthew, evidence surfaces that suggests the blackmailing scheme might be part of a political conspiracy, potentially a Nicaraguan coup staged by Eva’s husband. Christiansen was once a Capitol Hill staffer like the book’s protagonist, and her knowledge of Washington’s political culture shines through brightly. In addition, the author keeps the novel’s pace dizzying, delivering nearly constant action. But the intricate story is wildly implausible and often confusing. Furthermore, the writing in general is uneven. Despite the gravity of the subject matter, Christiansen’s narration is reminiscent of a lively teenager’s tone (“She can’t compose herself enough to speak as she walks out the door. Why was it that she had fought to do this?! Thank god her mascara is waterproof…”).
An outlandishly improbable revenge tale.