From Publishers Weekly
British author Kelly deftly weaves past and present in her highly satisfying debut novel of psychological suspense, which reveals how a convicted murderer came to be released after serving 10 years in prison. In 1993, the naïve yet brilliant Karen receives a scholarship to London's Queen Charlotte's College, where she's beguiled by Biba Capel, an iconoclastic and edgy drama student, who soon introduces Karen to her strange older brother, Rex. Karen joins sister and brother at the grand but deteriorating Capel family house in Highgate, with its several unconventional tenants. The three throw disorderly parties that enrage the neighbors, but they succeed in creating their own Edenic existence until the unwanted intrusion of Biba's hostile lover. Though melodrama looms, including a double homicide, the tension never wanes, and the ensuing horror comes as a major shock. The surprises don't end until the last page of this twisted tale with its wonderfully evocative London atmosphere. 5-city author tour. (Jan.)
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A dark, twisted tale of domestic tragedy, Kelly’s debut doesn’t miss a step: character, plot, dialogue, atmosphere, and pacing are right on the money. Karen Clarke has always done what’s expected and been a good girl: exceptional, conscientious student; obedient daughter; undemanding in her personal relationships. Then she meets fascinating Biba and falls in love with the young actress’ impetuosity and freewheeling lifestyle, both so different from anything Karen knows. That Biba wants to be her friend amazes Karen, who gratefully moves in with the actress and her protective older brother, soon to become Karen’s lover. At first, Karen finds her housemates’ casual lifestyle immensely appealing, but it isn’t long before she unearths the tangled emotions and tragic history that lies beneath the carefree scene. By that time, however, she’s so deeply enmeshed in her friends’ complicated, messed-up lives, she is unable to back away. Intriguing characters, a carefully constructed story that smoothly integrates past and present, and a shocker of an ending make this one special. --Stephanie Zvirin