Title: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
I Know What You Did Last Summer meets the French countryside in this exhilarating psychological suspense debut about a woman trapped by the bonds of friendship–perfect for fans of The Widow and The Woman in Cabin 10.
We all have our secrets…
They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door.
For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive. And there are some people you can’t forget…like Severine, who was never seen again.
Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free…
The French Girl by Lexie Elliott is a riveting mystery about the recent discovery of the skeletonized remains of a young woman who has been missing for ten years.
Kate Channing is trying to get her headhunting business up and running when her old friend Tom calls to tell her the shocking news that the remains of a young woman they met ten years earlier have been recovered. Nineteen year old Severine Dupas lived in the house next door where Kate, Tom, her best friend Lara, her now ex-boyfriend Seb, Caro and Theo vacationed in the French countryside. The French police reopen their investigation and it soon becomes apparent Kate and her friends are their prime suspects. Kate is haunted by the enigmatic and beautiful Severine as revisits her memories of the week she and her friends spent in France.
Kate is a surprisingly reliable narrator as she tries to make sense of the events of that fateful week in France. With her memories now filtered through new information and unexpected admissions, she soon realizes she might have missed or misconstrued certain things that occurred back then. She is still close friends with Lara and other than Tom, she has not seen the rest of the group over the last ten years. Her relationship with Seb ended on the last night they were in France and she does not have fond memories of their ill fated romance. Kate is still close to Tom and she is absolutely delighted to learn he just moved back to London after living in the United States. She is also somewhat surprised by the announcement that Seb and his wife Aline are also back in the UK. Kate is somewhat uncomfortable to discover that she will be working regularly with Caro, the one person in their group she never really clicked with.
French Detective Alain Modan has plenty of questions about the group’s vacation and their interactions with Severine. The last night of their holiday was marred by a huge argument between the friends. The next morning, Kate and the rest of the gang returned to Britain without seeing Severine. Of course they were all questioned after the Frenchwoman’s disappearance but the investigation turned up very little viable information. Now the group is reunited, Kate is literally haunted by the ghostly presence of Severine and stunned by new revelations. Despite this newfound information, she and the rest of the group are at a loss as to who could have killed Severine but there is no escaping the fact that one of them must be responsible for her death. But which one of them had the motive, means and opportunity to take Severine’s life?
The French Girl is a slow burning yet intriguing mystery. The cast of characters is well-developed but not everyone is likable. The past and present are a tangled web of friendship, jealousy, obsession, secrets and ambition. While savvy readers might figure out who killed Severine and why, Lexie Elliott brings the novel to an exciting and somewhat dramatic conclusion. An brilliant debut that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.