Dare Me by Megan Abbott
Dare Me centres around Addy Hanlon and her Queen Bee BFF, Beth Cassidy. Hot and savvy, the girls live and breathe cheerleading. Yet when a new coach arrives, the stakes are raised and the girls are made to prove themselves worthy of the squad. As the team pushes themselves to extremes to be the best, relationships begin to crack. Jealous of Addy's growing friendship with coach French, Beth starts to engage in a manipulative battle with the new coach, which leads to devastating consequences...
Dare Me is a brilliantly dark novel from Megan Abbot. Having read The End of Everything last summer I was excited to get my hands on this book. The prose is beautifully written and snaps with energy, perfectly capturing the mind of the young narrator, Addy, as she finds herself entering a dark adult world that she isn't ready for. Full of unexpected twists and turns through the various turbulent relationships, this novel will keep you hooked to the last few pages.
The Expats by Chris Pavone
Set mainly in Europe, The Expats, follows the point of view of Kate, an ex CIA agent who has given up her undercover job to devote herself to her family. Her husband's mysterious financial job takes them to Luxembourg where she comes across a fellow american couple, Julia and Bill. Unable to keep her trained suspicious mind at bay, Kate begins to investigate her new 'friends' and on the way finds herself questioning someone she thought she'd always been sure of - her husband.
The Expats jumps backwards and forwards from past to present to interlace the plot. Although slow at the start the novel keeps you interested in Kate's paranoia and eventually picks up the pace, moving from domestic dramas to an action/thriller novel. The various locations also set an interesting backdrop for the action to take place and illustrates the alluring yet monotonous side to expat life. Although the constant shift between present day and flashbacks can sometimes be off putting, it's worth persevering with - If not just to see how wittingly Pavone's plot is weaved.
Hit & Run by Doug Johnstone
On the drive home from a drunken and drug filled night out, Billy Blackmore accidentally runs over a civilian. After being guilt tripped by his brother and persuaded by his girlfriend not to call the police, the trio abandon the body and drive home as if nothing happened. The next morning however, Billy finds himself back at the crime scene to cover the incident for his paper The Evening Standard where he finds out the man he killed is none other than Edinburgh's biggest crime lord, Frank Whitehouse. Not wanting to lose his new trainee reporter job Billy throws himself into the story to keep up with the investigation, but the more he gets involved the more conflicted he becomes.
This is a fast paced novel that pulls you into the story in the first few pages. Though the title seems to sum up the novel, the plot isn't predictable and realistically captures that feeling of remorse that comes with bad decisions. With the smart dialogue and local descriptions of Edinburgh haunts, the story feels real and alive. A great summer read, packed with plenty of moral questions and tension.
Never Enough by Joe McGinniss
Never Enough tells the true story of Rob Kissel, a highly successful investment banker and his wife Nancy, an ex restaurant manager, who moved to Hong Kong in 1997. To outsiders they appeared to have it all - wealthy, the perfect marriage and three beautiful children. However, one day in November 2003 that envied life came to a sickening halt when Rob's body was discovered wrapped in a carpet in the basement of an apartment complex. In a matter of hours his wife was charged with murder. Nancy's trial captured media attention worldwide, but with two very different versions of the same murder, will we ever know who is telling the truth? To add to events, Rob's brother Andrew was found murdered only a few years later in similar circumstances - His stabbed body found in the basement of his rented estate in Connecticut.
Having lived in Hong Kong at the same time as the Kissel's and hearing about this infamous 'milkshake murder' amongst other expats, I was instantly interested in reading this book. Joe McGinniss starts at the beginning of Rob and Nancy's marriage, painting a fairly exaggerated picture of their lifestyle and relationship. To begin with the book seems fairly biased against Nancy Kissel, portraying her as an unlikeable woman obsessed with money and control. Yet McGinniss soon relies on the turn of events up to the brother's deaths to tell the story, which are dramatic enough without any excessive embellishment. Filled with family dichotomies, marital infidelity, glamourous cities and a need for power, the Kissel's tale will shock you no matter where you live in the world and illustrates the dangers of pursuing a life where the only thing that matters is money.