The premise to this book had me hooked, Jennifer is the mother to three children the eldest of which is Emma who at twenty is studying in Spain. One night Jennifer takes a phone call that changes her life, Emma is at the Police station, suspect in the murder of a local boy. I love books that let me play the ‘What would I do game’ and this is definitely one of those reads.
This book is as much about Jennifer and her relationships than the murder of Rodrigo Perez which almost becomes the backdrop to the drama being played out in Jennifer’s life as she is faced with the reality that her daughter which is different to that of the pretty, intelligent honour roll girl who goes to Princeton, this is a girl who has been lying to her parents about where she lives and how she spends her days for months.
This book has obviously been based on the killing of Meredith Kercher, an English student studying in Italy whose roommate, American Amanda Knox was suspected of being involved in her murder. That case hit the international news and to this day hasn’t properly been resolved. However, although the headlines to that case have been used by Nina Darnton this is book does not seek to directly copy that murder but rather used it a starting point. What is similar is the reporting by the media in the country of the murder using the fact that Emma was an American and allegedly brash and promiscuous in their news while back in America Jennifer enlists the help of a friend to brief a PR company to emphasise that Emma was the perfect daughter and her supposed involvement is all a horrible mistake. The other similarity is the way both Italy and Spain come up with a narrative that includes motive to build their prosecution case and it is up to the defence to disprove this. All of this makes for a fascinating read.
There are some good supporting characters to this story including Emma’s father Mark who is a US Attorney along with the local defence lawyer Jose and his support assistance Roberto. Jose and Roberto are Jennifer’s main support in the early days of the investigation while Mark remains in the US appearing in court and assisting Jennifer’s parents in looking after Emma’s younger siblings. Any parent will recognise albeit in an extreme form the prioritisation of everyday life and multiple children who need you.
I really enjoyed this book on many different levels and although both of the key protagonists are not people that I’d want to spend time with their reactions to the events as they unfold were suitable for the story being told.
I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Penguin Group Plume for allowing me to read and ponder over this book ahead of publication on 25 November 2014.