Rebecca James is married with four young children (all boys) and until recently ran a kitchen design business with her husband. See rebeccasjames.blogspot.com
Katherine, a high school senior, is trying to recover from her younger sister's rape and murder. Grieving and feeling guilty for her part in the tragedy, she changes her last name and moves to a new town to live with her aunt to escape the press and publicity, figuring she can finish her last year of school by flying under the radar. However, popular and gregarious Alice takes an interest in her, and soon meek Katherine is caught up by Alice's outrageous, domineering personality. It becomes apparent that Alice is not stable and that she has ulterior motives for befriending Katherine. VERDICt James's debut will appeal to fans of psychological fiction-early Ruth Rendell comes to mind. The choice to make the characters teenagers is a little odd and sometimes hard to swallow (they sound awfully wise and act in very mature ways), but the story is intriguing if predictable. Recommended for all thriller collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/10; library marketing.]-Rebecca Vnuk, Glen Ellyn P.L., Forest Park, IL Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
"I didn't go to Alice's funeral." So opens Australian author James's impressive debut, a searing coming-of-age novel that deftly intertwines two violent backstories. Studious Katherine Patterson, who's reading a book under a tree during lunchtime at her Sydney high school, is surprised when Alice Parrie, "beautiful, popular, impossible to miss," hands Katherine an invitation to her 18th birthday party. Alice draws Katherine, who has her reasons for remaining aloof from others, into an addictive relationship that fatally sours as one disturbing secret after another comes to light. James, gifted with unusual insight into teenage agonies, probes Katherine's raw-nerve guilt over her sister Rachel's murder, Alice's self-destructive narcissism, and the healing power of young love. This unflinching exploration of psychological manipulation and the tragedies it creates introduces a promising new talent in literary suspense. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.