By Ruth Ware
Published July 2022
Hannah Jones doesn’t feel like she belongs at Oxford, especially when she meets her roommate, April Clarke-Cliveden. April is rich, outgoing, and self-confident, everything that Hannah isn’t. But the unlikely pair soon become best friends. Once she knows April, Hannah finds herself part of a close-knit group with Will, Ryan, Emily, and Hugh. But what started out as a golden college year ends in tragedy with April is murdered in their apartment.
Ten years later, Hannah and Will have moved to Edinburgh, as far from Oxford as possible, and are expecting their first child. The man accused of April’s murder, John Neville, has just died in prison, having spent the last ten years decrying his innocence. Rather than feeling relieved, Hannah wonders if perhaps he really was innocent, that maybe her evidence that put him behind bars didn’t tell the whole story. To ease her conscience and despite Will’s objections, Hannah begins to dig into the past and uncover what really happened that night. What she finds will call into question everything she knows about her friends and leave her unable to determine who she can trust.
I wanted to read this book for months. I tried for the ARC, agonized if I should pre-order it, then debated buying it as soon as it was released. My trusty library came through and had a copy ready for me not long after the release date. (It’s helpful if you make a recommendation to purchase a book. When the library does purchase it, you’re first in line to read it. Pretty handy). I dove into it, pushing aside everything else on my TBR, and soon found myself struggling to stay interested. I still can’t put my finger on exactly why, except that the pacing felt exceedingly slow for about the first half of the book. Possibly because the narrative hopped back and forth between Hannah’s year in college and her present life. Neither felt like they were really going anywhere. I nearly gave up, until I saw a review on Goodreads that claimed the pacing picks up after the 50% mark.
Fortunately, that reviewer was correct – the plot clipped along at a good pace once the backstory wrapped up and the focus was on her investigation into what really happened the night April died. While this novel isn’t going to make my top five list of books for the year, it was well plotted. Small details came into play with the reveal of the murderer – things I’d noticed but hadn’t filed away as “evidence” while reading them. And I’ll admit that I didn’t guess who the murderer was – there were enough motives and red herrings given for all of the college friends that up until the last chapter or two, I was still guessing.
While I finished the book a tad disappointed that it didn’t live up all of my expectations, I do have another Ruth Ware novel in my TBR list that I’m looking forward to getting to.
3.5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+
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