A chick-lit thriller that draws on old children’s songs for inspiration.
In the popular playground rhyme “Miss Susie,” each line seems as if it will finish with an offensive word before it abruptly and humorously changes. This ying and yang of foul and funny permeates Kreps’ debut novel about “a party girl” whose life is tangled up with concepts from similar kidcentric rhymes. Susie, a recent college grad, and Will Johnson (“6’2”, dark hair, sparkling blue eyes, enough definition showing through his t-shirt and jeans to let her know he was an active guy”) meet-cute at lunchtime in a Cleveland park when they both stop at a purse vendor’s table. On a date that night, Will’s behavior is often charming, but he also does things that raise red flags, such as ordering for Susie at a restaurant without asking her what she wants. She ignores further bad omens until she accompanies Will to a remote cabin, at which point this edgy chick-lit novel becomes truly disturbing. There, Will blindfolds Susie, handcuffs her, and takes off her clothes. He also feeds her an ice cream sundae that contains nuts, knowing that she’s deathly allergic to them. Susie manages to escape the cabin, but after the police arrive, Will twists his version of events to make it appear that Susie was accosting him. Ultimately, this novel is cleverly written, and it’s full of credible millennial dialogue. Throughout, Kreps supplies a footnoted playlist of children’s song titles to accompany the story, such as “Found a Peanut” as Will tries to find Susie after she escapes from the cabin; a reference to “The Princess Pat” leads to a description of Susie’s friend Pat seeing “red and gold and purple too” because of the drugs that she’s taken. The resulting confluence of chick-lit, thriller, and storybook elements, though, often feels disjointed and forced. A more linear storyline might have been more beneficial, as the plot sometimes wanders too far away from Susie in order to concentrate on secondary characters.
An ambitious but discordant mix of genres.