Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
|Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: Intense thriller about a girl accused of murdering her best friend. Told in the first person and using reportage as counterpoint, it is both claustrophobic and moreish.
|Date: July 2013
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster
|External links: Author's website
Anna and her friends went to Aruba for the Spring Break of all Spring Breaks. These are privileged kids from an exclusive private school. They have plenty of money and they intend to party hard before college beckons. It's a tight group, but no-one is tighter than Anna and Elise. They have been inseparable since Elise rescued Anna from a high school bully. But now Anna also has Tate and this is a first love affair that consumes all, like a fire. Anna is beginning to find it difficult to balance these two intense relationships and she is hoping that this holiday will make everything great again.
But then Elise fails to show up one morning. By the afternoon, everyone is getting worried. So they break into Elise's room. And there is their friend, lying in a pool of blood. Elise has been stabbed to death. Was it a break-in gone wrong? Had Elise picked up a stalker? The Aruba polic don't think so. And shockingly, Anna finds herself on trial, accused of the murder of her best friend...
Cleverly, Dangerous Girls covers all sorts of issues that will mean a great deal to its readers. There's the peer group bullying and vicious girly bitchery - the thing that brings Anna and Elise together in the first place. There's teen rebellion and difficult relationships with parents - Anna and Elise party like mad, including drink and drugs, and some of the impetus for this comes from tensions at home, particularly for Anna, whose mother has cancer. And there's the unhealthy voyeurism of the media which covers crime for sensationalism, and not from any desire to expose the truth. This last may be more significant to US readers - trial coverage hasn't reached quite such tabloid heights this side of the pond. Yet. But the painful points it makes won't be lost on UK readers. And of course, there are first love affairs and the insidious jealousy surrounding them.
Gradually, through first person narration, flashbacks and reportage, a picture of an awful crime begins to emerge. And you feel very sorry for Anna. Not only because she has been accused, but because she had been so very lonely and isolated and now she has lost the very person who rescued her from all that. It's clear that Anna is irretrievably damaged, no matter how the trial turns out.
Who killed Elise? Will Anna be convicted? There's a great deal more to this book than I've told you but I hate even a hint of a spoiler, so you'll have to read it to find out. Dangerous Girls is a real page-turner and recommended to fans of psychological thrillers who think they'll enjoy something fresh in the format.
Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess also uses reportage as a technique and we loved it. A central character is also suspected of the murder of a friend in the superb Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks. You might like to try The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery but we had some reservations about the book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas at Amazon.com.
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