1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.
So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.
Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.
Greg Woodland, author of the acclaimed The Night Whistler, returns with another nailbiting rural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.
A follow up on The Night Whistler, The Carnival is Over is set approximately 5 years after the events in The Night Whistler. Hal and Allie are on the verge of adulthood and Mick Goodenough promoted to Sergeant and quite settled in Moorabool. And yet, he still likes to rock the boat especially when he’s got his teeth into a puzzling mystery.
The Carnival is Over is a thoroughly enjoyable complex mystery that kept you guessing all the time with just enough suspense to get your heart racing. The switch of views from character to character were done smoothly and flawlessly that I had no problem following. If you like The Night Whistler, then you’d love The Carnival is Over.
My thanks to Text Publishing for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
Greg Woodland is an author, screenwriter and former director. Since 2000 he’s worked as a freelance script editor and consultant for film funding bodies and the Australian Writers’ Guild and taught screenwriting at Sydney film schools and universities. His first novel, The Night Whistler, was shortlisted for a 2021 Ned Kelly Award.
A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE
Deaf PI Caleb Zelic has always been an outsider, estranged from family and friends. But when he receives a text that his brother, Anton, is in danger, Caleb sees it as a chance at redemption.
A REMOTE ISLAND
He tracks Anton down to an isolated, wind-punished island, where secrets run deep and resentments deeper.
A KILLER IN THE SHADOWS
When a killer starts terrorising the isolated community, the brothers must rely on each other like never before. But trust comes at a deadly price…
Published 28 April 2022| Publisher: Pushkin Press | RRP: AUD$29.99
I have a love-hate relationship with this series. I love the setting, the prose, and the characters. I absolutely abhor the angst Caleb have about Kat and Ant. Especially Kat and the on-off vibe of their relationship. I guess this is an inherent part of Caleb’s personality that has been mentioned in the book and therefore, it’s like watching a car crash where you know it’s going to be bad and you don’t really want to see it but you can’t turn your head away. That’s exactly how I feel about this whole series.
As always, Caleb stepped into a mystery bigger and ever more dangerous but this time, as he’s about to become a father, he really needed to question his involvement. And yet, things got out of hand very quickly with his life and those he loves in danger. Of course, the ending is never what I thought it’d be with all the miscommunications and misunderstandings adding to the complexity of the twists and turns that ends with a big splash.
My thanks to Pushkin Press for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
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Emma Viskic is an award-winning Australian crime writer. Her critically acclaimed debut Resurrection Bay was shortlisted for two CWA Daggers and won five Australian awards, including the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut. Its sequel, And Fire Came Down, won the Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel while Darkness for Light won the Readers Choice Award. Emma studied Australian sign language (Auslan) in order to write the Caleb Zelic thrillers, of which Those Who Perish is the fourth.
Having survived combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and been decorated with medals, Travis Devine mysteriously leaves the Army under a cloud of suspicion. And at thirty-two years old, he’s swapping fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda for a different kind of danger in the cut-throat world of high finance.
His daily commute on the 6.20 a.m. train into New York’s financial district, to his new job as an analyst at the minted powerhouse investment bank Cowl and Comely, takes him into a world where greed, power, jealousy and ambition result in the financial abuse of the masses and the enrichment of an elite few. But it is on this daily journey that he passes a house where he sees something that sounds alarm signals he cannot ignore.
A close friend of Devine’s, Sarah Ewes, is the first victim and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death at Cowl and Comely compel him to investigate further. As he digs deeper, he discovers strange coincidences and unnerving truths. As the deaths pile up, and the major players show their hands, he must question who he can trust and who he must fight.
I have to admit that while I’m a huge fan of a couple of Baldacci’s series (Atlee Pine & John Puller), I just couldn’t get into the others. My interest in this one is really geared by the idea of this protagonist’s 9 to 5 grind, which basically is also my life (thanks, Financial lines!), until life threw a huge spanner in his way. This made a great thrilling read (but I don’t want that kind of spanner in my life, lol).
Travis Devine is an easily likeable character. He’s highly intelligent and also physically capable man. And he wants truth and justice to prevail but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen in real life. Due to a misstep, he is now punishing himself and redemption seems far away especially when the past came back to haunt him. There is no choice for Devine now but to dive in and find the killers as well as deal with the underhanded world of Wall Street.
He is definitely a hit with me. Baldacci definitely knows his craft and kept the pace tight yet the human interest of Devine and other characters were truly touching. I don’t think the whole mystery is quite wrapped up yet though I could be wrong but I think, I hope, that this is just a set up (a first book) for a series. I’d love to see Travis Devine again and hopefully, see him more settled in his role.
My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
David Baldacci is one of the world’s bestselling and favourite thriller writers. A former trial lawyer with a keen interest in world politics, he has specialist knowledge in the US political system and intelligence services, and his first book, Absolute Power, became an instant international bestseller, with the movie starring Clint Eastwood a major box office hit. He has since written more than forty bestsellers featuring most recently Amos Decker, Aloysius Archer, Atlee Pine and John Puller. David is also the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across the US.
A serial killer wants to play. FBI Agent Nina Guerrera has no time for games.
Six female undergrads at an elite university vanish. The media descends. The families demand action. And as Special Agent Nina Guerrera follows clue by chilling clue, she realizes she’s tracking the most cunning predator of her career.
The case takes a turn for the worse, and the bizarre, when several victims are found perfectly preserved. No signs of violence, no hint of how they died. Just more evidence that the killer is cruel, calculating, and a master of mind control.
With her mission compromised, Nina must face her greatest failure—and greatest fear—to stop a deadly hunter before he claims another prize.
Published 28 June 2022 | Publisher: Thomas & Mercer | RRP: AUD$25.99
Special Agent Nina Guerrera is definitely one of my favourite fictional crime buster. She’s oh-so-broken but yet oh-so-kick-ass!! And her loyal teammates are just the perfect foil to her solitary warrior outlook. As the mystery to her background was pretty much resolved in the last book, I was curious where the author was going to take Nina next and whether it will be comparably thrilling… no worries there, she’s definitely got me engaged and I really can’t wait to see Nina develop as a character in future.
I don’t want to give too much away but The Falcon was an intriguing mix of Egyptology, psychology, falconry, technology, and so many other interesting bits which made the read really fascinating. There were some images which may be a lot paper in print but I had to skip reading because it was just too small on my basic kindle. Plus, one particular incident which didn’t quite make sense to me but as I read an uncorrected proof, this might’ve been fixed for the final print. Otherwise, this series is becoming one of my favourites and I can’t wait for book 4.
My thanks to Thomas & Mercer for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
Award-winning author Isabella Maldonado wore a gun and badge in real life before turning to crime writing. The first Latina to attain the rank of captain in her police department, she retired as the Commander of Special Investigations and Forensics. During more than two decades on the force, her assignments included hostage negotiator, department spokesperson, and precinct commander. Selected to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, she uses her law enforcement background to bring a realistic edge to her writing. She lives in the Phoenix area where her uniform now consists of tank tops and yoga pants. Instead of bad guys, she chases around her young son when she’s not handcuffed to her computer. THE CIPHER, the first book in her new series featuring FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera, was published in November 2020 and the sequel, A DIFFERENT DAWN, will be published in August 2021.
In every person’s story, there is something to hide…
The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquillity is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.
Woah, I thought I was ready for whatever Sulari Gentill can throw at me after that mind-bending twists of Crossing the Lines but she’s got a mean throwing arm! The Woman in the Library is a clever, imaginative thriller and so much fun to read.
The structure of the book is that of a letter from “Leo” and a chapter of story (which is found above in book description). At first, I did wonder which is “real” and which is fictional [remember, Crossing the Lines?!]. However, the author has something quite different in mind in this novel so it wasn’t quite that long before all is revealed and pretty soon, instead of one mystery, we have 2… Bonus!
As much as I enjoyed reading about the four strangers drawn together as friends, I was also very much drawn to the other mystery for which we pretty much only get Leo’s letters to read by. And yet, because of that limited scope, it’s that much more creepy and therefore, thrilling.
Another brilliant offering by a much loved author, Sulari Gentill, and one I’d highly recommend as it was very much an irresistible page-turner.
My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
Once upon a time, Sulari Gentill was a corporate lawyer serving as a director on public boards, with only a vague disquiet that there was something else she was meant to do. That feeling did not go away until she began to write. And so Sulari became the author of the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries: thus far, ten historical crime novels chronicling the life and adventures of her 1930s Australian gentleman artist, the Hero Trilogy, based on the myths and epics of the ancient world, and the Ned Kelly Award winning Crossing the Lines (published in the US as After She Wrote Hime). In 2014 she collaborated with National Gallery of Victoria to write a short story which was produced in audio to feature in the Fashion Detective Exhibition, and thereafter published by the NGV. IN 2019 Sulari was part of a 4-member delegation of Australian crime writers sponsored by the Australia Council to tour the US as ambassadors of Australian Crime Writing.
Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.
TV researcher Poppy McGowan has never sought the spotlight and is none too happy to be photographed with rock god Nathan Castle. When the photo pops up on celebrity gossip sites, it sparks a media feeding frenzy, forcing Poppy to go to ground, don a wig, and pull some nifty moves to escape a tailing car. On top of that, she cops abuse from Nathan’s outraged fans.
None of this would have happened if Poppy hadn’t found Nathan’s mother Daisy, one-time glamour girl and elderly best friend of her Aunty Mary, bleeding and unconscious in her bathroom. The police dismiss the case as an accident, but Poppy is sure there are questions to be answered. Who attacked Daisy, and why? Will she come out of her coma? What secrets are her gathering family hiding? What happens to Daisy’s money if she dies?
When a murder occurs outside Daisy’s flat, the police step in at last. Unfortunately, they finger Poppy’s boyfriend, Tol, for the crime – after all, he had bad blood with the victim. As Daisy’s money-hungry family circle amid hints of poisoning, bribery and blackmail, Poppy must find a way to clear Tol’s name and ensure Daisy’s safety.
A terribly fun read! I enjoyed this second instalment better than the first book. It was easy and light to read with just enough hints on the mystery to keep you going all the way to the end. Of course, the romantic tingles between Poppy & Tol, and their solid trust in each other, kept me fully warm and happy.
The only problem I had was keeping up with the numerous characters. Even as the story is told purely from Poppy’s perspective, there were moments where I had to stop and try to think who this particular character is again in relation to Poppy & others in the book.
I love that it’s set in today’s Sydney and enjoyed zipping about with Poppy whose innate goodness touched all those around her. I truly appreciate the safe-ness and yet, still exciting, relationship between Poppy & Tol (so many books on brokenness that this was so comforting). Overall, An A-List for Death was a very relaxing and very entertaining read.
My thanks to Harlequin Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
Pamela Hart is my married name and The Soldier’s Wife was my first book under that name, inspired by my grandfather’s service as an ANZAC at Gallipoli (see The Story behind The Soldier’s Wife). Since then, I’ve enjoyed working with other true stories set in and after WWI. Each book has given rise to the next, as I stumble over wonderful stories while doing the research for the current book. As Pamela Freeman, I’ve written children’s fiction, epic fantasy, crime fiction and children’s poetry. You can find out more about my other books here.
I became seriously interested in historical fiction when I wrote The Black Dress, a fictional account of the childhood of Mary MacKillop in the Australia of the 1840s-1860s.
I have a Doctor of Creative Arts in Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney, and I teach writing (face-to-face and online) at the Australian Writers’ Centre.
My writing started when I was a children’s scriptwriter for ABC Kids, which was where I began to write children’s stories. But then I found that I wanted to tell stories for adults, too, and particularly stories about women’s lives, loves, tears and joys.
I live in Sydney with my husband and son and many musical instruments. (I’m a drummer – or at least I’m learning to be one!)
The Omen of Crows Nest Catherine Constantine
Publication date: May 4th 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
No blood. No body. No murder.
That’s what the police found after Penelope spun her bizarre tale. In a hysterical state, she said her father was butchered and eaten by a mob of birds ~ in her bedroom.
They claim she’s crazy.
That she suffers from delusions.
Penelope is dead set on proving them wrong.
After being institutionalized for eight months, Penelope is out and more determined than ever to find answers to her so-called hallucinations. With her father’s untimely disappearance, she’s convinced her family is hiding something sinister.
THE OMEN OF CROWS NEST is the latest masterpiece by the award-winning author Cathrina Constantine, and is sure to leave fans of fantasy gasping!
I just love it when covers draw my eyes and when the description is just as interesting; we got a winner! I just adore that red swirls and purple silhouettes and seriously, that mystery behind Penelope’s breakdown really needed to be explored.
The novel opens as Penelope is at the end of her time at the institution. She is determined to return home as she has missed her brother and sister terribly. But even more so, she is determined to find out just what it is her family is hiding from her. Because of her fears of being institutionalised again, she could trust no one. Not even the best-friend-boy-next-door she’s fallen for. In the meantime, she’s got to face society (school!) where everyone knew where she’s been the last few months.
It’s an easy novel to read, language-wise, and fairly easy to dive into. Characters were mostly likeable though the mystery behind their motivations made some questionable. However, I did feel like it was a really long read because there was just nothing happening in the middle and the end was rather swift. I did like the action & reveal at the end but I do wish there was a bit more action in the middle and more romance(!) as I happen to like this trope.
My thanks to Xpresso Tours for ecopy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts
I am blessed with a loving family and forever friends. My world revolves around them.
I grew up in the small village of Lancaster, NY, where I married my sweetheart. I’m devoted to raising 5 cherished children, and now my grandchildren.
I love to immerse myself in great books of every kind of genre, which helps me to write purely for entertainment, and hopefully to inspire readers. When not stationed at my computer you can find me in the woods taking long walks with my dog.
My best friend wore her name, Esther, like a queen wearing her crown at a jaunty angle. We were twelve years old when she went missing.
On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.
Ronnie’s going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can’t be gone, Ronnie won’t believe it.
Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it. She has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.
Lewis can believe it too. But he can’t reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.
Five days later, Esther’s buried body is discovered.
What do we owe the girl who isn’t there?
Character-rich and propulsive, with a breathtakingly original use of voice and revolving points of view, Dirt Town delves under the surface, where no one can hide. With emotional depth and sensitivity, this stunning debut shows us how much each person matters in a community that is at once falling apart and coming together.
Esther will always be a Dirt Town child, as we are its children, still.
What a STUNNING debut! Undoubtedly one of my best reads of 2022 and I’m going to start this review, right off the bat, by Highly Recommending this book. You’ll not regret it. Actually, you will regret it if you don’t.
I thought Dirt Town was a novel I was going to enjoy as I do enjoy my crime reads. However, after a few pages, I knew I was not just going to enjoy this read. This read was more. I still can’t quite point the finger at exactly what it is but it was just such a rich read; compelling prose, concrete characters, engaging mystery and I am just in awe.
The description notes ‘revolving points of view’ and this phrase both interests me and made me a bit anxious but for once, I don’t have any complaint on the multiple perspectives. Each one was clear and definite, each voice unique. Sometimes, I found it a bit strange as moving on to another perspective, we are going over the same time period or scene as the previous chapter/perspective BUT it’s not actually going over old grounds as it were but different perspectives, in this novel, truly gave another viewpoint, another dimension to a certain scene. It really flesh out the whole story and made it ever more solid.
I could literally feel the snowball effect as I read; it started off slow but sure and after halfway, I could feel it gaining speed and the end was heartbreaking. The ending wasn’t as dark as some other crime/rural noir novels and in that way, I appreciated it a whole lot more. An immensely satisfying read, do yourself a favour and read this book. Then do me a favour by letting me know your thoughts x
My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
Hayley Scrivenor is a former Director of Wollongong Writers Festival. Originally from a small country town, Hayley now lives and writes on Dharawal country and has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong on the south coast of New South Wales. Dirt Town is her first novel. An earlier version of the book was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.
Introducing an original and intriguing new lead character, Stuart MacBride’s new novel showcases a crime-writing master at the top of his game.
‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’
It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.
Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.
It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?
I was excited to receive this book in the mail since I was totally in the mood for a crime read. While I’ve heard of this author, I’ve yet to read any of his books so while I can’t tell his fans if this new book is as good as his other books, I can tell you that I’m keen to explore his backlist now.
Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh appears to be the standard protagonist of a police procedural novel in that she’s like a dog with a bone when presented with a case and she is broken. There’s something in her past which we learnt of later on in the novel. She mostly gets along with her team and has a loyal partner though he seems a lot younger and immature in comparison to her. Herein lies the humour which breaks the bleakness of the novel and I really enjoyed the dynamics between these two.
I was caught by surprise by some of the language and maybe that’s because I’ve never read his books before or maybe I don’t read enough Scottish books but I don’t think I’ve ever heard some of these words before: hurple (I love the sound of this word! Say it out loud to yourself and see what I mean), clarted (only cuz it rhymes with farted – I’ve been hanging out too much with my boys), dunt, sook (as in ‘sucking a cigarette’ and not ‘being a sook’), etc. This may be a reason in itself to read more of MacBride’s!
What started as a pretty solid police procedural changed in a somewhat unpredictable way approximately 3/4 through the novel. At first, I wasn’t sure if I like this change because it turned into a psychological thriller which I’m not a fan of… I didn’t mind the ending but I’m still not sure whether I like it or not; maybe that’s TBD after I read the sequel 🤣
My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts
About the author
Stuart MacBride is the Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae and Ash Henderson novels. He’s also published standalones, novellas, and short stories, as well as a slightly twisted children’s picture book for slightly twisted children.
Stuart lives in the northeast of Scotland with his wife Fiona, cats Gherkin, Onion and Beetroot, some hens, some horses, and an impressive collection of assorted weeds.
You Should Have Seen This Coming Shani Michelle Published by: Swoon Reads Publication date: April 12th 2022 Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
A teen girl who sees visions of the past must use her gift to save a kidnapped classmate in Shani Michelle’s high-stakes YA thriller You Should Have Seen This Coming!
Hayden sees the past. Just touching an object will occasionally give her flashes of the previous owner’s memories. And if that memory happens to be a deeply hidden secret, then she has no problem making you pay for your crime, in cash.
Cassie sees the future, and it sucks. She will randomly wake up from dreams filled with disasters that she feels compelled to stop, and she would really like to stop watching her boyfriend fall in love with someone else!
But when Cassie tries to warn Hayden that her latest blackmailing scheme is a trap, she knows she’s really in trouble. All her visions warn her of the upcoming kidnapping, nothing she does stops it. And it’s all Hayden’s fault!
Can Hayden’s gift help her find Cassie before it’s too late?
Shani Michelle is the author of YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. She also works in TV news. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her husband, family, friends, reading, watching way too much TV, and coming up with new story ideas. (She’s also written several rom-com and middle grade novels as Shani Petroff)
No one does a good saunter anymore. I shake out my arms and loosen my body before I meander into the girls’ locker room Tuesday morning, doing my best to channel an old-timey sheriff in a Western film. Time to show the elite who’s boss. Brooke Tamison and Fiona Gavini are standing off to the side. Both look up as I approach. “Well, well, well, what do we have here?” I ask, stopping right in front of them. Brooke’s whole body goes rigid. “We’re in the middle of something, Hayden. Get out,” she commands. Her dark green eyes narrow into slits and her nostrils flare. She’s perfected the look of someone in charge, I’ll give her that. A for effort, but she’s not fooling anyone. She’s scared of me. The little tremble in her voice is a dead giveaway. I can’t really blame her. In my two months and change at Lightsend High, I’ve developed quite the reputation. “Just what I need,” Fiona mumbles, throwing her head back, hitting the locker behind her. I cringe. She couldn’t have meant to hit it that hard. I almost ask her if she’s okay, but then I remind myself that she’s the enemy. One of the school’s we-think-we’re-above-the-law- and-better- than-anyone crowd. The ones I can’t stand. The ones I’m taking down. She lets out a sigh. One of defeat? Surprise? Disgust? It’s hard to tell. “You know . . .” I shake my head. “If you’re gonna have a clandestine meeting, you really should come up with someplace more original. You’re making it too easy. It’s like you want to be caught.” I take a seat on the wooden bench in front of them. “Don’t know what you’re talking about or what you ‘think’ you know,” Brooke says, using her fingers to make quotation marks, “but this is between Fiona and me.” She puts her hands on her hips and glares down at me, but regardless of our positions, we both know who’s in power. I make sure to give her my sweetest smile. “Now it’s between the three of us, isn’t it?” She knows she’s in trouble. They both do. I am the school’s self-appointed Robin Hood. Taking from the rich, spoiled, and corrupt, and giving to the poor—i.e., me. It’s the only after- school activity I find remotely entertaining. “How do you keep doing this?” Fiona asks. Now it’s my turn to play clueless. “Doing what?” She sighs again. We both know what she’s talking about. She wants to know how I keep finding out all this dirt on everyone. If I told her, she wouldn’t believe me, so I don’t bother to explain. Not that this instance needed any noteworthy skills. Not with Brooke. She’s a special kind of egomaniac. The kind that doesn’t believe anyone will dare cross her. The kind where you just have to wait, listen, and watch, and you’ll have something on her in no time. “You’re just as bad as all the people you hate,” Fiona tells me. She’s saying this to me? I don’t dignify it with an answer. Not when the people she’s talking about told so many brutal lies about Leighton Chutney that she’s now being homeschooled. Or hit a dog with their car and just left it there. Or
put laxatives in Kristoff McLeigh’s protein shake before his big football game with all the scouts watching. Not even the same playing field. I get justice. Or at least, a little revenge. So what if I pocket something on the side? “Stop talking,” Brooke hisses at Fiona, before turning her attention to me. “You don’t have anything on us.” The glare she flashes could make blood turn cold. “No?” I ask, plucking the thumb drive Fiona’s been holding from her hand. She really should have stashed it in her bag. “Two cheaters for the price of one. Well, price of two. You can both pay up,” I say, lying back on the bench. I want to take in and savor every second of this. Sure, there are people at Lightsend who’ve done worse than Brooke, but this is personal. Brooke’s the one who went Mean Girls on me when I started school here. The compliments on my clothes that everyone knew were really insults. The whispers. Trash talk. Blocking my car in for hours. Spilling coffee on me. And little Miss Fabulous Fiona was always along for the ride. “Or if you prefer,” I continue, “I can let Mr. Thadwell know that one of the school’s top students got there by cheating, and another had a side business that helped her do it.” “That drive proves nothing,” Brooke scoffs. “Come now,” I say, matching her condescending tone. “Do you really think this is all that I have on you?” Truthfully, yeah, it is. But she doesn’t need to know that. I’ll find something else. I always do. I toss the drive up in the air and then catch it in my palm. Right as it smacks my skin, my whole body shudders. Now? Really?? There’s nothing I can do but watch.