With Malice by Eileen Cook

Title: With Malice26153925
Author: Eileen Cook
Pages: 316
Year: 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: 3.75/5

Goodreads Synopsis: It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Imagine waking up in a hospital bed with no recollection of the last month or so of your life. This is how Jill Charron’s story begins, as she recovers from a devastating car accident that killed her best friend, Simone. The gut-wrenching twist? The police don’t believe it was an accident at all. Statements are emerging saying that Jill fought with Simone before the accident, that the crash looked intentional, and that their friendship was more sinister than it seemed.

Jill doesn’t remember any of this. She only remembers a loving relationship with her oldest and dearest friend. But as the evidence begins to tower over her, she wonders if she is capable of the things everyone is saying she has done. Could she have let a boy come between their friendship? Could she have fought with Simone? And could she have murdered her best friend?

Jill’s narrative is split up between interviews, online conversations, media segments, and descriptions of Italian landmarks. This format worked very well for me. I thought it was a fun way to break up the novel and to give more points of view other than our protagonist. It showed just how much the “truth” can differ between different people, and how flimsy that truth can be. Even when Jill’s memory begins to return, her doctors remind her that her “memories” could be influenced by what she has been told by her family and the press, making her an unreliable narrator and leaving a lot of what she remembers up to interpretation from the reader.

I felt sympathetic for Jill as she is cruelly depicted by the media and slut-shamed by peers and strangers alike. Her parents and lawyers don’t believe in her innocence either, simply trying to make it all go away. Everyone believes that Jill is hiding something, and remembers a lot more than what she is letting on. However, while the plot hinges on Jill’s memory, it is only moved forward by the statements and interviews gathered by police as they build the case against her. This is not a novel driven by character development, but by the development of the plot.

So, did Jill murder Simone? Read this fast-paced thriller and find out!

 

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