The story kicks off when Nathan, an employee of a famous radio DJ, attends his boss’s house party. From there, everything goes wrong. First he argues with his girlfriend in front of everyone, making a fool of himself. Then, drunkenly, he swings for his boss. And finally, he meets a girl and decides to drive out to a forest with her (alongside another guy he met at the party: Bob) and have sex with her. Bob also has sex with her, and during this twisted backyard swap-session, the girl dies. The two men bury her and conspire to cover up her death. To be on the safe side, they cut all ties and part ways.
Nathan gradually gets his life back on track, and in a misguided attempt to assuage his guilt, he hunts down the sister of the deceased. To complicate things further, he falls in love with her. Then, ten years down the line, with that horrible night far back in his rearview mirror, and everything falling into place for the first time in forever, Bob turns up at his house and tells him they need to dig up the dead girl.
The story speeds towards its conclusion from there.
It’s a gripping premise, one that draws the reader in instantly, and the story, for the most part, delivers on it. As a whole, the book’s quick-moving, atmospheric, and realistic, with one major set piece (the death of the girl) and everything else just a long, winding, emotional aftermath. The finale is a little too neat and easy, but the novel is still worth reading for the journey to get there. The book almost feels like a novella in some respects; something that was stretched into a novel. But if that’s so, Neil Cross stretches it with skill.
It’s not a story that will linger in the memory for years to come, but it will help pass a boring weekend.
Check it out.
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