When her best friend, Maggie, apparently commits suicide, Jude thinks it might actually be murder.
Found drowned in her family’s swimming pool, Korean-American Maggie constantly threatened suicide, but Jude believes it was only to get attention. Maggie slept around, and Jude thinks her most recent lover is to blame, especially when date-rape drugs are found in Maggie’s body. Jude finds herself looking at their friends, a racially and ethnically diverse bunch, and wondering who might have done it. She also ponders her own life: she was raped as a child, which led to the breakup of her parents’ marriage—something she continues to blame herself for. Amid all the personal revelations and drama, blunt-to-a-fault Jude delves for clues that may lead to the truth about Maggie’s death. After the funeral, Jude indeed does put events together and understands what really happened. Emulating LA noir of yore in style, Smith treats the story not as a classic murder mystery, although the book does resolve it, but as an opportunity to examine Jude’s life through her thoughts about her relationships with her friends, including Maggie. Flashbacks aplenty add to the texture. Jude is a tough nut, but as the story unfolds, so does she. She parcels information out reluctantly; readers learn she’s not well-to-do, but the absence of other markers implies that she’s white.
A stylish exploration of loss. (Fiction. 12-18)