Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: spring break, friendships, murder
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: Spring break for a group of friends turns deadly when one of their own ends up brutally murdered and another charged in the crime.
I have been anxiously awaiting and anticipating Dangerous Girls since Jamie’s January Catalog Creepin’ post.
Full disclosure about me: I’ve been known to get wrapped up in those big headline crimes and when I first read the synopsis about mayhem in Aruba, Natalee Holloway popped into my head. (Teenager who went missing on a school trip to Aruba in 2005.) What about a character in the book stuck in a different country facing murder charges? Instant reminder of the recently published and freed Amanda Knox. (Charged with the murder of her roommate in Italy in 2009.) But Haas manages to make Dangerous Girls completely her own because while this story sometimes alludes to these particular crimes, it makes more a statement about the 24-hour news cycle and how media paints the victim and the accused. And just like I’d been with certain cases, I was completely alert and engrossed with untangling this vacation-turned-tragedy.
Anna and Elise are uber best friends on vacation with their group (including Anna’s boyfriend, Tate) in gorgeous Aruba. They are prepped for a week of partying, the sun, the surf, and just leaving all their worries in Boston behind. But in the opening chapter, we know their hopes for their paradise vacation are all but a pipe dream. Elise is missing, and when they are on the phone alerting the authorities, another in the group discovers her brutally murdered in her bedroom.
It’s obvious that the Aruban authorities don’t have much experience dealing with a crime of this caliber, and zero in on Anna and Tate as their prime suspects. But Tate comes from an affluent family and sneakily escapes his convictions while Anna is left to await trial. Rethinking every minute of her life since she first met Elise in school, going over every second of their time in Aruba, and wondering if she will ever be home again.
Haas effectively alternates chapters between the present and the past. The story grows more intense because the further you read the more detail you get, those small little details that could uncover what really happened to Elise. I was probably convinced I had figured out the whole thing about five times, even declaring so outloud. But then I kept reading, doubt crept in, and I realized I didn’t know much at all.
That, folks, is the sign of a fantastic thriller.
I had to exercise EXTREME self-control when it came to my reading because I wanted to just plow through the whole thing, skip over paragraphs that I thought could lead to some answer sooner. I actually had to stop myself many times and I’m glad I did. The moments of reprieve, the slow burn made it THAT much better.
Listen, I read Dangerous Girls in less than a day. Elise and Anna’s dependent friendship, the cruelty of Elise’s murder, Anna’s relationship with Tate, the loyalty between their circle of friends, this all encompassing sensuality, and the uncertain future for Anna? I had to get to the bottom of it. All I can say is the ending blew me away so much I was yelling four-letter words at the book, and frantically scrolling back to make sure I had read it right.
But I had, and whoa, Haas sure got me.
Dangerous Girls is one wild, twisty ride; the details felt so real that my first reaction was to Google the heck out of this crime when I was done reading because I had to know more. Only, there was no murder to research. Instead, it’s purely a piece of fiction, so addicting and so dark that I can only call it an experience.