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“Friends Like These,” by Kimberly McCreight (Harper)
“… Who needs enemies,” so the saying goes. These are college classmates from Vassar, who meet at the exclusive resort home of one of them to celebrate his upcoming wedding. In actuality, the weekend is a drug intervention for another in the group.
There were 10 friends originally, but one of them, Alice, committed suicide in college, and the secret of her death haunts the others 10 years later.
The cop in this exclusive resort, it turns out, is Alice’s sister, and she’s never accepted the suicide verdict. She has to put her feelings on hold, however, because during the intervention weekend, one of the friends is found dead.
Like other friend stories — Mary McCarthy’s “The Group” and the television show “Friends” — this one is about trust and betrayal, hate and love, and the group dynamics of people who were once held together by college but have gone their separate ways. In “Friends Like These,” the remaining seven are bound together by ties of loyalty that begin to fray as they wonder who among them is a killer.
And the ending is a shocker.
“False Witness,” by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow)
Leigh Collier is an up-and-coming attorney at a prestigious Atlanta firm, but behind her tough exterior is a secret. When she and her younger sister, Callie, were teenagers, they killed a man who had abused and tried to kill Callie, his son’s babysitter. The two girls covered up the murder, but it still traumatizes them.
Years later, Leigh is a successful lawyer, but she must compartmentalize her life to deal with the past. Callie is a drug addict.
Out of nowhere, Leigh is assigned an assault case for Andrew, one of the firm’s top clients. The man is charged with drugging, raping and torturing a woman. Leigh realizes Andrew is the son of the pedophile she and Callie killed, and he specifically asked that she handle his trial. scheduled for just one week away. Leigh is horrified, especially when she finds similarities in Andrew’s attack and the murder of 20 years before.
She tracks down Callie, who is into heroin and anything else she can cage, and the two try to figure out how Andrew knows details of his father’s death. After all, they had checked repeatedly to make sure the boy was asleep while cleaning up after the killing.
Even more threatening, Leigh is sure Andrew has attacked and mutilated other women, and she believes he will do it again. She hopes to stop him by losing the trial, but Andrew threatens exposure if she does.
Like his father, Andrew is pure evil, and “False Witness” will give you the chills.
“A Good Kill,” by John McMahon (Putnam)
When a killer breaks into a school, murders one teacher and holds a gun on another, detective P.T. Marsh is called in. He climbs on top of a building so he can see the shooter. While waiting for a clear shot, he gets a call from the governor. Take him out, the governor demands. “In Georgia, we act strong and fast. We protect children.” Then he adds, “Marsh, you owe me one.”
The kill is a good one, and the detective is a hero. But the shooting bothers him, and he begins to suspect that the dead man is somehow involved with the deaths of Marsh’s wife and son, nine years earlier, in a car accident.
Their deaths were not that simple, however, because Marsh believes they were murdered. As he investigates the dead man, a crusading journalist, he becomes aware that there is a conspiracy afoot that reaches all the way up to the governor’s office. Maybe the death of the school shooter isn’t such a good kill after all.
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