It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As
Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…
The photo clicks up on the display projector overhead. Although everyone must have seen it a dozen times over, I still hear the gasps of shock ripple through the courtroom.
“Objection!” My lawyer leaps to his feet. The judge sighs, staring over her thin wire-rimmed glasses. “Your objections have been noted, counselor. Many times.”
I sit silently in the witness box. They’ve been trying to bring up the photos for weeks now, and for weeks, my lawyer has been fighting. They’re unrelated. Out of context. Prejudicial. If there was a jury, then maybe he would have won, but here in Aruba, there’s no jury deciding my fate. It’s just Judge von Koppel, and as she’s told him every time, she’s already seen them. Hell, everyone has. From the day some journalist browsed our profile pages and hit the tawdry jackpot, those photos have been printed and reprinted, emblazoned across every newspaper front page in the world.
“Miss Chevalier, if you could look at the first photo . . .” He clicks again, making it larger this time. “Can you tell us, when was this taken?”
“Halloween,” I reply reluctantly. “Last year.”
“And that’s you in the photograph?”
“Tate,” I say quietly, picking at the skin around my left thumbnail. They said I’m supposed to keep my hands folded, unmoving, but I can’t help it. Every nail is bloodied by now, scabbed and torn.
He’s still waiting, so I take a breath. “And Elise.”
“The victim,” he announces, as if they didn’t know. “And what are your costumes, here?”
It sounds so stupid, out loud in court, but that’s what Halloween is for, right? Slutty nurses and zombie cats; guys with fake limbs and girls in trashy fairy-tale costumes. It doesn’t mean anything; it’s all just a game. It’s not supposed to be blown up as evidence on a display screen one day, like you planned it out from the start.
“Elise and I were vampire cheerleaders,” I say again, “And Tate was . . . a bootlegger, I guess. Something from the twenties. He wanted to wear the braces and hat.”
“And these photographs were taken at . . . the Newport residence?”
I nod. “I mean, yes. We were going to a party, but we all met at the twins’, Max and Chelsea’s, to get dressed, and take photos and stuff.”
He hasn’t put the other photos up from that night: Max in his zombie football player uniform; Chelsea as Princess Leia with her hair caught up in fat braided whorls; Lamar as Black Jesus, with the robes and a blinged-out cross; Melanie in her usual slutty cat outfit, whining that she didn’t know Elise and I were going to match. We must have taken hundreds of photos that night—dressing up, and posing, and later, at the party—but of course, nobody wants the rest of them. Not when they have the ones they need right there: four pictures, saying everything they want to see.
“And the blood—”
“Fake blood,” I interrupt.
“Yes.” He gives me a patronizing smile. “Whose idea was that?”
“I don’t know. We found it, online,” I explain. “The same place we got the costumes.”
“We. That’s you and Miss Warren.”
She had been so excited, showing me the website. Proper horror costumes, like the kind they use for movies and music videos. Blood and scars and fake wounds oozing puss. We’d scrolled through the options, laughing and crying out with disgust. Alien baby. Zombie spinster. Not that we picked any of them in the end. We wanted to look hot, too. Hot with an edge.
“And the knife, whose idea was that?”
I feel my cheeks flush. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? But that’s you holding it, isn’t it?” He clicks the photo even bigger.
“Yes. I mean, I don’t remember. There was a lot going on. It’s not mine,” I add, remembering my lawyer’s instructions not to seem sullen or withdrawn. I force a polite smile. “Someone got it from the kitchen, for the photos.”
“Somebody.” He drags the word out, sounding skeptical. “But you don’t remember who?”
“No.” My voice is small.
“And you were drinking that night.” It doesn’t sound like a question, so I don’t reply. “You drank often?”
He turns to the judge. “I’m merely trying to establish Miss Chevalier’s normal partying routine.”
“I’ll allow it.” She nods. He turns back to me.
“The drinking,” he prompts.
“We all drank.” I protest. “Just some wine, or vodka with mixers, you know? The guys had beer. AK always smoked—”
“That’s not relevant.” He interrupts me quickly. “You and Miss Warren, and Mr. Dempsey. You drank together.” He clicks to the next photo, to answer his own question, and there we are: Tate pouring vodka into both of our mouths.
“Yes,” I admit. I know what comes next; my lawyer’s warned me well enough. He’ll ask about the weed and the pills. About my mom’s Xanax, and the times Elise tried her Dad’s Percocet. About the cocaine Melanie saw Elise try over Christmas break, and the liquid X Niklas tried to feed her in the club that night. It sounds so bad, all run together like that, but there’s no way around it, save lying, and too many people saw too many things to get away with that. Besides, they told me over and over again: Just tell the truth.
I take a breath, bracing myself, but instead the lawyer clicks again, to the next photo. “Can you tell me about the necklaces?”
I stop. “What?”
“A necklace was ripped from the victim’s neck that night, and there’s a possibility it was the one she’s wearing here, in the photograph. You have a matching item. Where did they come from?”
“I . . . me. I got them.” I look over at my lawyer, but he looks just as confused as I am.
“With the costumes?”
“No, this was before then.”
“Uh, over the summer, I think.” I pause. “Yes, summer. We were up in Northampton, there’s this jewelry store there . . .” I wait, still lost.
“Why did you buy them?”
“I . . . don’t know.” It’s a trap, I know, it has to be, but I can’t figure out why or what for. “It was just a gift,” I explain. “We would do that: buy two of something, so the other had one. So we matched.”
“Why this necklace in particular?”
“It was pretty.” I shrug. “It looked cute.”
“And can you describe to me the shape of these necklaces?”
My lawyer’s face changes to something like panic, but I still don’t know why, so I shrug again and answer. “It’s geometric. You know, like a—”
I stop. I can see it now. This was his plan all along, and it’s worse than we ever thought, but the word is hanging in the air waiting to be spoken.
“Like what, Miss Chevalier?” His voice gets louder, booming in the courtroom. “What was the necklace you bought for Elise?”
I close my eyes a moment.
“A pentagram,” I whisper.
“Speak clearly, Miss Chevalier.”
I say it again. Another murmur ripples through the courtroom: shock, speculation.
“Wait,” I add quickly. “It’s not like that. I didn’t mean—”
“That’s enough.” He cuts me off. “No further questions.”
“But you can’t!” I leap up. “It wasn’t like that!”
“Miss Chevalier,” the judge interrupts me. “That’s enough! Do I need to return you to custody?”
I sink back into the witness chair. He’s left the photos up on display. Elise and Tate and me, covered in fake blood. Me holding the knife to her throat. Tate’s shirt open, his arms draped around us both. Elise and me licking strawberry syrup off the blade. The close-up of the pentagram necklaces.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but these only have one:
Well holy shiz! This is without a doubt one of the most gripping books I’ve read so far this year! It is mind bogglingly brilliant and I adored every twisting second!
I was immediately drawn into this dark storyline and I really felt like the book grabbed a hold and wouldn’t let go.
We have a group of teens going on a wild and booze filled holiday, but something goes horribly wrong when Anna’s best friend is found in a pool of her own blood. The group are numb and are left shaking in a foreign county with no answers.
But when Anna herself is arrested for the murder – her world is blown apart! The story is on every news channel around the world and the court is dragging her whole life out into the open and over analysing every little detail.
Abigail Haas writes compellingly and everything is laid out in such exquisite detail that I could see everything playing out so vividly in my mind. I lived and breathed this brutal court case and I felt dearly for poor Anna. All of the characters in here are really strong and I really enjoyed getting to know everybody.
The ending itself BLEW MY MIND completely and I thought I must have misunderstood – so I read it again and again. I think it is one of the most shockingly brilliant endings ever!
Dangerous Girls is big winner that just demands your full attention. I adored each shocking second and was constantly on edge! The ending will most definitely leave readers chilled to the bone!
Go pick up this awesomeness today – I know you’ll love as much as I do!
A BIG 5 Stars!
*Special thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy*
Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.