On June 28, 1980—the hottest night of the year—Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. . . . And instantly becomes a media sensation, her chilling smile fodder for national nightmares. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent—of both killings—and want to help her clear her name. But is she?
I will admit that with a cover that reminded me of Tales of the Unexpected I wasn’t immediately drawn to this book, but then I spotted the endorsement by Harlan Coben. Now if it was good enough for Mr Coben, I figured it was worth a second look, and I’m so glad I did.
It’s a story that slips between the unfolding contemporary murder enquiry and an unravelling of Kelly’s past. I’m not always a fan of constant back and forth, but here it works very well. As we learn about the past, we think we know what happened and believe we might know who is responsible for the current killing – or do we? Just as you think the blocks are falling into place another clue or snippet of information emerges that throws everything back up into the air.
I was drawn in straight away, again duped by what I thought was going to be the story of poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks, bullied and ridiculed by her ‘rich kid classmates’. Kelly’s ‘friendship’ with the Hollywood elite is discouraged both by her family and theirs. It looks like history might be repeating itself as she’s drawn into a world of drink, drugs and excess that was responsible for the death of her younger sister.
As the tale unfolds, nothing is what is first seems and everyone’s motives are put under the microscope, along with the red herrings that litter the plot. While some characters are more like-able and believable than others, the one character that I was batting for all the way through was Kelly. It was easy to see why she was drawn into a world that offered her the friendship and opportunities she craved, although as it turned out, at a pretty hefty cost.
By the end I would have to agree with Mt Coben it was ‘completely absorbing and with a knock-out twist’. If you like a plot with plenty of twists, turns and blind alleys then this is definitely one to add to the list.
I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.