First novel by Kennedy, a Londoner, chillingly explores the aftermath of a loveless childhood. Charlotte Pierce was born to wealthy Lord and Lady Pierce—her mother an uncaring alcoholic, her father equally indifferent. Sent to boarding school at 13, Charlotte meets Barty McClaren, a child of working parents, and upper-class Therese Allinson-Smith, a pair who—ve long been best friends. Charlotte, employing bribery and guile, succeeds in making it a best-friends trio. Nonetheless, at graduation, still jealous of Barty and Therese’s relationship, she schemes to alienate them permanently from one another while inserting herself into their futures. Decades later, Charlotte is rich, unmarried, and working for the BBC; Barty is a busy photojournalist, living happily with her adored lesbian partner; and animal-rights enthusiast Therese is shacked up (at her animal sanctuary) with the rough-hewn Mick. Charlotte socializes with both women on a regular basis (in her mind, they form a veritable Family); she even seems fairly content (after warding off a job threat). But then, career moves within The Family promise to ruin everything. Charlotte’s devious countermoves put a stop to the demise, but even so, the foul workings of coincidence bring on the inevitable downfall. Dark and powerful stuff that could use more light touches. Still, this is a chronicle that—ll grip readers to the finish.