Published July 2017
Blame is an engrossing psychological thriller set in Austin, Texas, about a young woman who has been ostracised by her community for her role in an accident that killed a popular high school student, that she remembers nothing about. I had not read this author before, although his previous book Panic has been on my shelf for ten years! I was in the mood for a thriller after a couple of duds, and liked it a lot – despite the plot not making a whole lot of sense, and it featuring many of the elements I’ve been trying to avoid!
Jane Norton is 19, homeless and drifting, since the car crash that killed her friend and neighbour David, and took her memory. Everyone thinks she was trying to commit suicide, so she also lost most of her friends. Her mother Laurel will do anything to protect her, but David’s mother Perri is unable to forgive Jane, and now someone is sending anonymous threats to reveal what really happened that night. How can she uncover the truth when she can’t remember anything?
This features a cast of completely unlikeable characters – including the “heroine” Jane who’s a moody manipulative unreliable liar who inexplicably all the boys seem to fall for, two domineering status-obsessed over-privileged mothers, and a large array of other potential suspects with dubious motives. Then there’s the amnesia plot line, something I’ve actively avoided in recent years after it’s overuse in this genre, and the Mean Girls trope, also overdone. What saves this is excellent plotting and a competently written third person past narrative that constantly shifts our sympathies between the main characters, so that I suspected everyone in turn and could not predict who would be behind it all. The reveal of what was going on was pretty out-there, and therefore unpredictable, but by then the action had sped up to breakneck pace so I didn’t care how implausible it all was.
4 fun-if-you-don’t-take-it-too-seriously stars from me.