Film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane, returns to her old boarding school of Granby to teach a couple of classes for two weeks. Being back in the familiar grounds brings back memories of her time there, and how she felt like she didn’t fit in. The wrong clothes, little money, quiet and closed-off, Bodie eventually found a friendship group that she carried into adulthood. But her junior year roommate didn’t get to grow up. Thalia Keith was murdered their senior year, and Bodie starts to question whether the person convicted and imprisoned – Omar – actually did it. Could it have been the older teacher Thalia was maybe having an affair with? What about her boyfriend? Bodie doesn’t object when one of her students wants to use Thalia’s murder as the subject of their podcast for class, and ends up more closely connected to the case than she claimed she wanted.
Although I’ve given this five stars, this is not a perfect novel. It’s a slow start, but it eventually gripped me enough that I didn’t want to stop reading and I overall enjoyed it. But Bodie is a frustrating character to be with for so many pages. I don’t mind unlikable characters but I couldn’t quite get a grip on her or what I was supposed to think about her. She’s self absorbed (but then who isn’t), makes stupid decisions and does end up centering this case on her even if she doesn’t mean to. Or does she? Does she protest too much about that?
It may be that the novel is trying to do too much, say too much, and ends up saying little instead. Like Bodie’s brush with #MeToo through her husband and how she doesn’t fully reckon with that. It’s just a nuisance? A distraction? And her pathetic ‘relationship’ with Yahav, which to me added nothing except giving her an in with someone who was law adjacent. But you could have removed all that and lost little to nothing. Maybe it was to add more irritation towards Bodie? To show once again how her past has affected her present? I don’t think it was needed.
But the story itself is captivating, as much as a well done true crime podcast. We want to know who dunnit. We want the pieces to fall into place. It is hard at times with a book this long to remember characters that have been briefly mentioned and how they might be important. A thread that seems to be dropped is one of their classmates being so affected by Thalia’s death she wanders off campus and leaves school for mental reasons and later dies of an overdose. I thought she meant something, she’d seen something. But maybe she was a red herring.
I did like the structure, the way Bodie is talking to her old teacher, someone she had liked but come to suspect. It felt fresh even if it’s forced at times. And the book taps into popular culture with its podcast references. I do wish I had been more satisfied by the ending. I wanted more closure, even though we mostly don’t get that in real life. You can give it to me in literature. It’s what I’m here for.
Still, a gripping read.