"We were twenty-one-year-old sorority girls; we screamed not because something was heinously, improbably wrong but because we had everything to be excited about." So muses Pamela, one of two narrators, in an opening chapter of Jessica Knoll's third novel, Bright Young Women, right before everything, indeed, goes wrong.
Why does the public often remember the names of criminals, but not their victims? Knoll shines a light on that injustice in this electrifying thriller, which deftly and compassionately gives voice to the people who lost their lives, and to those who loved them. Loosely based on the crimes of real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, this is the story of two young women from opposite ends of the country, Pamela Schumacher and Tina Cannon, who team up on a decades-long search for the truth. In one of the later chapters of the novel, mirroring what happened in Bundy's trial, a judge calls the defendant a "bright young man." Knoll chooses instead to tell the stories of the bright young women who were hurt by his crimes, thus robbing Bundy of some of his undeserved myth of exceptionalism.
This is a tale of courage and resilience, with evocative scenes and multidimensional characters. Knoll (The Favorite Sister; Luckiest Girl Alive) has written not only a propulsive crime novel that will keep readers riveted late into the night, but also a scathing indictment of the often-flawed justice system. --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer