A really good psychological thriller. I just wish I liked psychological thrillers…
I had never read anything by JT Ellison, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of psychological thrillers. But I had heard a lot of good things about Ellison’s writing, so when I was offered a review copy of Good Girls Lie by the publisher, I gave it a try. What I found was a tightly written book that kept me reading late into the night.
Good Girls Lie is set in an elite all-girls college prep school in a small town in Virginia. It’s exclusive, with only fifty students admitted each year, hand-picked by the Dean, and presumably destined for great things – or at least for Ivy League colleges. The setting is appropriately gothic with gorgeous but slightly spooky old buildings, secret tunnels, rumors of past deaths, and secret societies. But it turns out that privilege doesn’t change basic human behavior, and in the pressure cooker of the Goode School, people start turning up dead.
Ellison tells her story from a number of different viewpoints, including that of an unknown narrator, which makes things a little bit confusing at times. I suspect this is intentional, however, since the confusion definitely adds to the suspense of not knowing what’s going on or what’s going to happen next. Our heroine (or is she?) is Ash Carlisle, who has come all the way from England to the Goode School after the death of her parents. She’s on full scholarship, which may make things awkward with her well-off classmates, and has some secrets in her past. And although the beginning felt a bit slow to me, partway in, Ellison takes all of these elements and mixes them into a compelling mystery with an ending that feels just right.
All-in-all, Good Girls Lie is an extremely well-written book, and if psychological thrillers are your thing, I highly recommend it. It will keep you thinking you know what’s going on, then finding out you don’t, and then finding out you don’t all over again. It did, however, confirm for me that I’m just not that fond personally of this type of book. It may be a little pedestrian of me, but I like to empathize with at least some of the characters, and I had trouble finding any of the characters that I liked enough for empathy. I don’t give many five star ratings, maybe one in thirty or forty books that I read, and Good Girls Lie isn’t quite at that level (and wouldn’t have been, even if I did like its genre). But I’m giving it four-and-a-half stars. Just make sure you like this kind of book before you start!
And my thanks to Harlequin/MIRA and NetGalley for the review copy!