When reading a thriller, you’d expect the mystery solved at the end, right? Well, this is one book where we don’t get the answer, yet somehow in the readers’ moral court, justice has been served.
With Malice (Review)
This book by Eileen Cook took me by surprise; I half expected it to be another stereotypical drama as the lead characters are two teen girls. I even began to regret picking it up during the initial pages. However, when the mystery slowly turns into a witch hunt, it reminded me of real-life events that have turned out alike in the year 2020, and the storyline really captured my interest.
Two beautiful teenage girls who have been best friends from the cradle despite their very opposite personalities and different economic backgrounds travel together to Italy. Jill, our main character, wakes up in a hospital with grave injuries and Aphasia. This means that she has lost the memory of a period of 6 weeks during which she traveled to Italy and met with a car accident. Things are really boring in a hospital, and she is in a lot of pain; the only thing that would make her feel better is her best friend Simone’s presence. She is getting worried when days pass, and Simone doesn’t visit. Jill soon learns by accident that Simone is dead and her family has been hiding her from the earth-shattering truth that she is the prime suspect of her best friend’s murder. In her wildest dreams, Jill cannot imagine hurting someone, let alone kill her best friend. As days pass by, she learns that her story is a media frenzy in the outside world as it is a glamorous murder plot in an exotic location. The Italian police are after her for an arrest, they have framed a bunch of baseless evidence against her, and the online trolls have declared Jill to be a rich and spoilt party girl who killed her best friend out of jealousy and over summer love with an Italian boy Nico.
In reality, Jill is a straight-A student who has already been accepted into Yale. Still, the trolls have decided on a false image publicized about her by the media who just want a hot story to increase their channel ratings. Aphasia makes her forget basic words like thank you and school, so what are the odds that she will remember what happened in Italy? She mentions to the expensive and high-end lawyer that her parents have hired Jill to have a blog about political issues relating to feminism. The blog had been stalked by a hater who left hurtful and personal comments so much so that she had to shut it down. She feels in her bones that this person might have something to do with framing her, but the lawyer dismisses this deeming it silly. Her reality is much different than what the media describes.
Jill has a strong mind, she finds books more interesting than boys, she is ambitious, and she has very few friends out of which Simone was like her sister. Jill’s father is rich; however, he now has a new family and replacement kids. Even though he pays for the trouble she is in, she never really can forgive him for abandoning her. In the rehab that she is transferred to, Jill and her roommate Anna carry out their own investigation on her troll and develop a bond tightened by trauma and pain. Slowly her Aphasia gets better, and she gets little visuals of memories, or is it just a placebo effect? No one can really tell. Some of it gives her answers she would rather not know and sends her into hysterics. With the Italian police on her back, she can’t even trust her therapist with this information; all she knows in her heart is that she is a good person and a good friend. What does it take for a good person to commit a crime? When pushed enough, are we all capable of murder?
When reading a thriller, you'd expect the mystery solved at the end, right? Well, this is one book where we don't get the answer, yet somehow in the readers' moral court, justice has been served.
Author: Eileen Cook