Kill All Your Darlings
Setting – Kentucky
Berkley (July 6, 2021)
Hardcover : 416 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593198662
ISBN-13 : 978-0593198667
Kindle ASIN : B08MBPPXC3
When a student disappears and is presumed dead, her professor passes off her manuscript as his own—only to find out it implicates him in an unsolved murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of The Request.
After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.
There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.
Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma—admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.
This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia—and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.
In this David Bell thriller English professor Connor Nye is still grieving the loss of his wife and child while the college is pushing the “publish or perish” mantra. A couple of years ago one of his students disappeared right after turning in her novel thesis. The man clearly was not thinking rationally when he submitted the student’s book for publication as his own. Then he gets a major surprise after the book is released – the student has returned and she gives him an ultimatum. If he doesn’t give her what she wants she vows to expose him and blow up his life. Then things get worse when the police arrive at his door questioning him about an unsolved murder that happened exactly like the murder in his book. So he has a huge decision, out himself, admitting he didn’t write the book and face unemployment or stick to the lie and try to convince the police of his innocence. As he ponders his decision another person is murdered and he starts to dig into the deaths himself and uncovers some surprising connections that all seem to lead back to the college.
Each year I anxiously await David Bell’s next book and as always he has created a very complicated mystery.
Again he introduces readers to some very interesting characters. I really wanted to like Connor Nye and pull for him. I understand the sudden loss of a loved one and losing two people you love has to be twice as hard, but he made a horrible decision. A decision that truly had me questioning his intelligence. It was bad enough to submit that novel as his own but was crazy stupid to submit that novel without changing a single word. Change some names. Change some locations. Make even just a little bit of effort just to give yourself a chance. Even if had not been ripped from an actual murder, even a much less educated person would have changed something.
I did feel for Madeleine almost immediately because I knew there was more to her story. She was so close to graduating when she disappeared. I really needed to know her involvement in the traumatic events that happened in her book especially when we learned it pertained to an actual murder. Was she responsible or did she just see something she shouldn’t? Was it a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or was she actively investigating the murder?
Telling the story from each of the character’s points of view and going back and forth in time really gave the story depth and the pages rapidly turning. Another student enters the narrative later as events start to get even more disturbing. Because of the way the author presented the book, there are some repetitive passages but it didn’t really detract too much from the flow.
This mystery really takes a real warped journey before it wraps up. As Connor continues to struggle he continues to make bad decisions. Bell has always used supporting characters to move the story along and he does that here in a compelling way. He also shines a light on the pains and pressure of academia and the ways it pushes both professors and students and the ugly underbelly that can arise when stress takes over.
Kill All Your Darlings was a thriller that kept me entertained and had me physically moving to the edge of my seat a couple of times. David Bell continues to be one of my favorite authors in this genre. I am excited to see what he will bring his readers next summer.
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You can find out more about David Bell and his books visit his webpage here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”