Warning: I had every intention of keeping this review spoiler free but I just can’t! So, a few paragraphs down I am going to go into a rant that spoils everything!
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. The book opens up with a transcript from a phone call with the police, a phone call where a group of friends on spring break in Aruba have just discovered the dead body, clearly the victim of foul play, of their friend.
And then from their we continue on with newspaper articles, interview transcripts, flashbacks to the years since the main characters met, and the present. Now this could have easily been confusing but Haas did a very good job of indicating chapters that were “before” or “now” and all articles and transcripts and what not were dated.
The set up is that a group of close friends, in particularly the narrator Anna, her boyfriend Tate, and her bestest friend Elise, most of whom are quite privileged, are vacationing in Aruba. There’s plenty of drinking and sex and even some drug use which, through the flashbacks, we discover wasn’t uncommon even when they were all in America. But all of the mentions of fun times are overshadowed by that initial phone call.
It soon becomes revealed that Elise is the one who was murdered and the Aruba police are looking at Anna and Tate as the most likely suspects even though Elisa hooked up with and scorned several men during the few days of their vacation before it turns deadly. Tate’s family though is very, very wealthy and is able to get out of the trial. That leaves Anna alone in Aruba for months on end while she waits to stand trial. During this time we see flashbacks and hear what the media has to say about the case and it becomes clear that most people definitely are not believing the adage “innocent until proven guilty.” What doesn’t help is that Anna has had a rough, emotional past what with her mother’s cancer and death.
I decided to read Dangerous Girls because it was compared to With Malice, another book about two friends, one who dies, and the other who is accused of killing her. And in that instance the narrator was unreliable and it turned out that she’d done it. So I had sneaking suspicions that Dangerous Girls would be similar. But Haas instilled enough doubt that I was second guessing myself until the pivotal scene where Anna both tells and shows us that she killed her best friend. And that scene was so chilling, proving that Anna was clearly a psychopath. It was glorious and kind of made me want to re-read the whole thing so I could see if I could pick up the clues the second time around. I would say that is the perfect sign of a well crafted unreliable narrator.
So, personally, I thought Dangerous Girls was a well crafted psychological mystery with interesting flow and vivid characters. And oh wow, that ending!