**3.5-stars rounded up**
Gardiners Bay is your typical isolated community by the sea. It’s full of secrets, lies, deceptions and murder!
Partly kidding, but you can picture the scene. In Gardiners Bay, there are two different schools that play an enormous role in this drama. Preston Prep School for girls and Rookwood Reform School for boys.
On a quiet morning in the Bay, Jenna Dallas is out taking scenic photos when shouts for help from the beach draw her attention. She finds Adam Cole, a Rookwood boy, pulling a lifeless Colleen O’Dell from the surf.
Colleen is a popular Preston Prep girl and Jenna is shocked to see the state of her classmate. Pulling herself together, Jenna is able to call 9-1-1 and emergency services soon arrive.
Unfortunately, Colleen doesn’t survive and both Jenna and Adam are brought in for questioning. To the teens, the whole situation seems cut and dry. Adam noticed Colleen’s body floating and pulled her from the surf, Jenna came upon them both and called for help.
For the police however, it’s not that simple. Colleen’s death was no accident and a full-blown investigation begins.
After numerous Preston Prep girls report a viscious verbal altercation happening between Colleen and Jenna’s best friend, Hollie, just hours before Colleen’s death, the police begin to consider Hollie a prime suspect.
Jenna knows Hollie is innocent. There’s no way she would have physically harmed Colleen. In order to help her friend, Jenna begins an investigation of her own.
Her investigation has her digging through all the dirt of not only her own school, but also Rookwood. Thus, she ends up growing closer to the mysterious, Adam. A fact she’s not complaining about.
Y’all, I thought this book was a ton of fun. The narrative alternates between Jenna and Adam, as well as including flashbacks for both characters and some really engaging mixed media aspects.
I felt this format kept the story moving forward at a nice steady pace throughout. Great choice by Lepore.
I love an amateur sleuth trope, so it wasn’t necessarily surprising that I enjoyed this. I am also a huge fan of over-the-top drama. Hidden secrets and dirty laundry coming to light, I can’t resist it. This story somehow brought the same level of drama as every season of The O.C., Beverly Hills 90210 and Pretty Little Liars combined!
That’s a real feat. There were plenty of twists, turns, red herrings and reveals. I suspected everyone at one point or another.
In the end, Lepore wrapped it up nicely and I was quite satisfied with it overall. It reads extremely quickly. Once you get into, it’s hard to peel your eyes away from the trainwreck!
Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I look forward to reading more from Gabriella Lepore!