If you’re looking for an emotional rollercoaster with twists, turns, and a brutally surprising ending, hop into Eileen Cook’s With Malice!
When Jill Charron wakes up in the hospital, she can’t remember the last six weeks of her life. The doctors and her parents tell her that she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident while on a school trip to Italy, but beyond that, their behavior is strange. Jill isn’t allowed to use her phone. She can’t watch any television. No one is allowed to visit.
Then the horrible truth comes out.
Jill was the driver in the car accident and her best friend since childhood, Simone, was killed in it. The only witness to the accident said that Jill never hit the brakes before the car smashed into a wall and flipped down a cliff, leading the international media and Italian police to label it a murder-suicide attempt that was only partially successful. But despite their differences in wealth, upbringing, and popularity, Jill and Simone were the absolute best of friends. Jill knows she can’t be responsible for Simone’s death, but how can she prove it when she can’t remember anything about the trip or the weeks leading up to it?
As Jill sits in rehab, trying to get back her memories and recover from severe physical injuries, she’s also desperately searching for the answers that no one is willing to give her. But it’s a dangerous game to play: In Jill’s state, assumptions can form into false memories. Internet mob justice has already deemed her guilty and as the evidence seems to slowly stack up against her, even the people closest to her doubt her innocence. But as more details and vague memories emerge, can Jill prove to the world that she’s not the vicious, scheming murderer the media has dubbed “Chilly Jilly”?
Jill is a character that we suspect many readers will identify with at heart. She’s a bookworm too, one who mostly keeps to herself with the exception of Simone and a couple mutual friends. She’s an intellectual type who actively discusses activism online, but feels more comfortable letting her friends take the spotlight and give her suggestions in social situations. She knows that she’s moving in a different direction from most of her friends, but she’s optimistic that they’ll always be there for each other. Personality-wise, Jill is not someone who grabs a lot of attention on her own. She’s likable but in a very casual, friendly way, which makes her dilemma and the world’s captivation with every move she’s made in the past several years all the more fascinating.
The story is mostly told from Jill’s perspective, but details unfold with the help of flashbacks, police interviews, news reports, blog posts, doctor’s notes, and more. The various articles make for shocking reveals while slyly revealed the world’s attitude toward Jill. We see how a few inane details or interactions from Jill and Simone’s lives can drastically alter their narrative in the public eye, especially when some intriguing secondary characters come into play. While it’s not a dead ringer for Gone Girl or The Girl On The Train, we definitely got those vibes because you never know whose word or intentions to trust.
While we loved the heart-stopping, twisty, flip-flopping narrative of this mystery thriller, we admit it may not be for everyone. Jill’s journey is a dark one without much levity. There’s no comic relief, There’s no love story. This novel is not for the faint of heart. But if you want that story that keeps you emotionally invested but isn’t all about relationships and laughs, you’re in the right place.
And while we refuse to spoil anything, the resolution of this novel was spectacular. THAT ENDING. We were absolutely shell-shocked!
Crime, mystery, and thriller lovers, be prepared. With Malice is the chilling summer read you’ve been waiting for!
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
With Malice hits shelves on June 7, 2016.