3.0 out of 5 stars
Secret society of mean girls causing trouble -- but capable of murder
Phoebe Hall -- a 42-year-old disgraced reporter who left New York in the wake of a plagiarism accusation, is asked to fill in for a teacher on maternity leave at the behest of the college president, her former roommate and friend from boarding school, Glenda Johns. Phoebe is also healing from a recent romantic breakup and retreats to this small college to recover and wait until her reputation is repaired. Shortly after the fall term starts, a female student whom Phoebe talked with briefly on a walk in the rain across the quad, is found drowned. Was the dead girl a victim of a tragic accident or was she murdered? If so, who might be the killer? Because of rumors around campus of a secret and powerful women's sorority, and because of Phoebe's past experience of having been a target of such a group while in boarding school, Glenda asks her to look into this group -- known as The Sixes -- and to see what her investigative skills can uncover.
The rest of the narrative is fraught with predictable scenes and red herrings as Phoebe puts herself fully into the search for answers about the dead girl, the secret society, and other cases of missing persons that occurred over the previous two years. Are all of these deaths related? As she noses into details surrounding the events, she is targeted and harassed with home invasion and other warnings to back off the investigation. The death count rises the closer she gets to the truth. Although I thought I had figured out the entire 'whodunit' by the fourth chapter, I ended up being wrong. That's not to say that the conclusion is realistic or believable; just not what I had anticipated, and somewhat unsatisfactory. I did like that the main character, Phoebe Hall, was middle-aged.
This is an entertaining and mindless read -- perfect for passing time while on a plane, at the beach, or by a pool. It reminded me, at first, of another Gothic suspense novel that I read recently, The Raising: A Novel (P.S.), which I'd recommend if you like this type of suspenseful, secret girl society type of book.