Title: All These Beautiful Strangers
Author: Elizabeth Klehfoth
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Mystery – Thriller
My Rating: 4/5
One summer day, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Alistair Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.
Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New England school she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.
Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.
As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.
Ten years ago, when Charlie was seven years old, her mother disappeared. Charlie is now seventeen, and away at boarding school. When she is tapped to join the A’s, the school’s secret society, she’s excited, but a little concerned about the initiation process. As she plays the game the A’s ask of her, she learns they may not be as great as she originally thought. In addition to school life, Charlie starts to think there is more to the story of her mother’s disappearance, and looks into the past to uncover the secrets.
Told using alternating points of view – Charlie, Grace, and Alistair. Charlie is the main character. She’s popular, rich, smart, and pretty. She seems to have it all, but she is haunted by her mother’s disappearance. From Charlie’s viewpoint, the reader learns about the present and the past. Grace and Alistair are Charlie’s parents. Their chapters are mostly about the past. The alternating timelines and POVs were handled well, and easily distinguished from one another.
A large portion of the book is about Charlie’s school life, friendships, and initiation into the A’s. The initiation process involves an elaborate scavenger hunt, that often has risks. The mystery part comes from Charlie learning something new about her mother, which reignites Charlie’s interest in her mother’s disappearance. She decides to look into the past, and attempt to uncover what happened.
This is listed under adult fiction, but it reads like a YA mystery. I was fine with that, but if you don’t like YA books, then this might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy YA, mysteries, and books that involve elite boarding schools, then this is perfect for you.
A compelling debut novel. Captivating, mysterious, and clever. I look forward to reading more by this author.