Uuuuugggggghhhhhh. I have really got to take a break from thrillers for a while. This book sat on my TBR for about a year before I finally checked the audio version out from the library. The premise seems strong: Charlie, our heroine, needs to get away. Her college roommate and best friend, Maddie, was murdered, and Charlie is not doing well. This being the early 90s, Charlie finds a ride on her college ride board from Josh, though right away there seems to be something off with him. Over the course of the journey from New Jersey to Ohio, Charlie begins to get more and more suspicious that Josh is really the Campus Killer – the same person who murdered Maddie.
Now, complicating all of this is the fact that Charlie is delusional. When her emotions get too overwhelming, she slips into a delusion of heightened reality – “movies in her mind” – where her brain reinterprets what’s happening through the filter of Hollywood. This, we are given to understand, is because Charlie’s film-loving parents (Charlie is named for a noir heroine) died tragically, and her grandmother used movies to console Charlie and help her process the trauma.
So really, what we’ve got is an unreliable narrator and a “make it movies” filter pasted over a pretty average thriller. The beats are totally familiar and unsurprising. Charlie’s mental health is pretty thoroughly glossed over (except when it’s being exploited by various other characters), and she is also one of the dopier heroines I’ve encountered in a long while. The writing itself is overwrought and repetitive, with certain phrases (“movies in my mind” being the most egregious example) used so often and with so little variation as to be truly grating. There’s also a twist that isn’t nearly as clever as the author thinks it is.
Give this one a miss.