Aldrich University is for the best of the best, right up there with the Ivy League schools. But when a schoolwide hack exposes the emails of students and faculty alike, scandals are rocking the university to its core and everyone’s reputation is at stake. Things take a turn when Kit Manning’s husband, Dr. Greg Strasser, is found murdered in their home. This prompts the return of Kit’s sister, Willa, who happens to be an investigative reporter.
Unconvinced that Dr. Strasser’s murder was a random crime, Willa begins to look into it herself, police investigation be damned. In doing so, she finds that Dr. Strasser had suspicious links to other faculty members and students, she realizes that they all have something to hide. Something that could ruin their reputations if their secrets are leaked. Could it be possible that one of them is the murderer?
I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Obviously, I picked it up because it sounded interesting, but still, I had some reservations about it. The story follows five characters – Kit, Lynn, Raina, Laura, and Willa – right as the university hack happens, as well as before and after Dr. Strasser’s murder. We learn right away that pretty much each of these characters has something to hide, and most are in relation to the doctor. Some are hiding from their past, while others are hiding information that could ruin them, and therefore are only looking out for themselves in this story, which makes them suspicious.
For the most part, all the characters are unreliable, but some for good reason. Each character does have something to hide though, and some character’s secrets are worse than others. The best part of reading this book was that when I thought I had figured out what was going on with each character, it wasn’t anything like I expected. A little disappointing for my own sleuthing skills, but a fun surprise at the same time, so I couldn’t be too mad. It reminded me of my favorite mysteries and shows that throw the same kinds of twists in there.
WHAT I LIKED
The twists. Again, I enjoyed trying to figure out who the murderer was and I was definitely shocked when I kept guessing and turned out to be wrong. I would not make a good detective, that’s for sure. However, that proves that there was great development of what was going on “behind the scenes” of the story, so to speak.
The character Willa Manning. The only character who wasn’t in Pittsburgh when Dr. Strasser was murdered, and who takes it upon herself to figure out what’s what in this story. While she’s uncomfortable being home because of an incident in her past, she pushes through because she wants to find out who murdered her brother-in-law, and who exactly he was emailing behind his wife’s back. Although she initially didn’t want to stay in Pittsburgh, she decides to be there for her sister and fills in for where Kit can’t because she’s still reeling from the email scandal and her husband death.
I loved to hate Lynn Godfrey. She was pretty much just there to be a manipulative thorn in Kit’s side, but I thought she served her purpose. While I hate that she didn’t have any development, that kind of shows how there are some people out there that will never change and are simply only looking out for themselves. So while she didn’t have the complexity of some of the other characters, she was a different type of realistic character that we don’t see too often (or at least I don’t).
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The book was a little hard to get into at first because of having five different perspectives. Not that I didn’t like it, but with so many characters having their own secrets, I got confused in the beginning and mixed up two or three of the characters. It does get easier though as the book goes on and works out for a good story.
The pacing at the beginning seemed a little slow. While it starts right off with the hack and the aftermath, it just seems like it takes a while to really get into the meat of the story. Just as well, the author wrote in an element for the story to have part of the #metoo movement, as the hack scandal brings some campus rape stories to light. However, I don’t feel like this was the story to include that in. She does tie it in near the end that makes some sense, but it also feels forced, which is why I personally don’t think it fit.
Overall, I thought this book was pretty good with the twists and complexity of some of the characters. It definitely takes you for a ride of twists and turns as you read, which is all you can really ask for in a book like this. Unlike some other mystery novels, it’s not as predictable as you’d think and I loved that aspect of the book. Honestly, if you’re a fan of shows like Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, then you’ll most likely enjoy this book as well.
Rating: 4 stars