Edge Library


Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Art imitates life: A podcast explores whether a man who has served more than 20 years in prison for the murder of a young woman was wrongfully convicted. While Makkai's latest is likely inspired by the Adnan Syed/Serial story—in the news recently as Syed's conviction was vacated and he was released from prison—she has added intriguing layers of complication to her version. Bodie Kane, producer of a hit podcast about Hollywood starlets, has been invited back to Granby, the elite New Hampshire boarding school she graduated from in 1995, to teach a course on podcasting during the two-week “mini-mester”of January 2018. Among the topics Bodie suggests to her students is the murder of her classmate Thalia Keith, which occurred in the spring of their senior year on the night of the school musical. A Black man who worked for the school as an athletic trainer was convicted and imprisoned for the murder of the White Thalia, but doubts have fueled interest in the case ever since, including a 2005 episode of Dateline and a website promoting the view that the boyfriend did it, As Bodie works with her high schoolers to investigate, a major #MeToo–type scandal breaks in her own life, involving her partner, a well-known visual artist. Meanwhile, her return to Granby forces her to confront her troubled younger self: the ways she was affected by her disastrous childhood and her connection to a teacher who was certainly a predator and may even have been the murderer. Punctuating the story with lists of references to familiar crimes—“the one where” this or that happened—Makkai places the fictional murder in a societal context of violence against women and the obsession with true crime. Fans of The Great Believers (2018) should be forewarned that this book does not have the profound impact of its predecessor, partly because the emotions brought up by its topic are on the outrage-anger spectrum rather than the grief-sorrow one. Also, Makkai seems not to want us to fall in love with Bodie, who herself is a bit cold, but perhaps this is because the whole narrative is addressed to a “you” she is furious with. Well plotted, well written, and well designed to make its points. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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