"The It Girl" | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider
A master of mystery, author Ruth Ware has quite a following. Her newest, “The It Girl,” provides more fodder for her fans. It’s a tale of intrigue that kept me guessing until the end when all the narrative threads came together and the killer of a campus beauty, at Pelham College at Oxford, was finally revealed in the most imaginative of scenarios.
It’s been 10 years since Hannah found her roommate April’s body sprawled out on the floor of their dorm room. April was a charismatic person, full of boundless energy, a party girl who enjoyed playing tricks on her friends.
The murder threw Hannah into shock. Now terror of that horrible night is paramount. It's a decade later and April’s killer, John Neville, convicted by evidence given by Hannah, has died after spending his final years in prison. From day one, Neville has claimed his innocence and has mounted one appeal after another.
His death has reporters clamoring to interview her, but Hannah wants nothing to do with revisiting a crime that was a nightmare for her and the circle of friends she and April shared: Will, Ryan, Hugh and Emily, also students at Oxford.
Though the murder constantly consumes her thoughts, Hannah has tried to move on. After some time, she married April’s former boyfriend, and now she oversees a bookstore in Edinburgh, a wonderful job for a book lover. Hannah and Will are happy and thrilled that they’ll soon welcome their first child.
But their happiness proves illusive when a bombshell is dropped. It turns out that Neville may be innocent of the crime—a revelation that throws Hannah into a spin—she’s the one who suspected Neville—she’s the one responsible for imprisoning an innocent man.
The conundrum becomes an obsession for Hannah, a day in and day out struggle to go back in her mind to that day and try to pull facts out of subconscious. The stress of trying to figure out who April’s real killer was causes Hannah to have problems in her pregnancy and complicates her marriage when she begins to suspect Will of the crime.
“The It Girl” is expertly crafted. Chapters alternating “before” and “after” April’s death offering an interesting perspective on the well-rounded characters while in college and 10 years later, both time periods equally interesting and cleverly constructed to keep readers in the dark. Ware doesn't shine a light on who-dun-it until the last few pages of this literal cliff-hanger.
If you like a good mystery, don’t pass this one up.