The American Girl by Kate Horsley has just released.
Seventeen year old American Quinn Perkins has travelled to France to participate in an exchange program with the Blavettes, a French family. Seemingly normal - until Quinn stumbles out of the woods "barefoot, bloodied and unable to say what has happened to her." And the host family is missing...
So, what has gone on? What happened to Quinn? Where are the Blavettes? Journalist Molly Swift wants answers to those questions. With Quinn in a coma, Molly lies about who she is and inserts herself into both Quinn's life and the police investigation.
Horsley starts things off with a good premise, reminding me somewhat of the case of Amanda Knox. Horsley fills in the blanks in a back and forth, then and now narrative that jumps around, juxtaposing Quinn's arrival at the Blavettes with the current day investigation.
I don't see that this book is being marketed to the teen crowd. For me, it definitely had the feel of a young adult novel, rather than an adult "riveting psychological thriller". I grew weary of Quinn's obsessing about the oldest son, her bad choices and her acceptance of things. And Quinn's father? Completely unbelievable. The police investigation was quite flawed and highly unbelievable in my opinion. The video diary of Quinn recovering her memories was a great plot device though.
Molly Swift I liked - a lot. She could carry a story on her own. Her deceptions didn't bother me in the least - most likely because I just didn't like or connect with the lead character Quinn. The romantic interest with the lead detective seemed extraneous and stilted though - it could have been left out. The Blavettes, especially Emelie, are overdrawn and their actions overtly obvious. Yes, we know there's something up with the family, but a subtler hand would have raised the tension just as well.
Horsley does inject a nice twist at the end - one that was fairly well telegraphed - but still, a good ending. I found the final reveal of the reasons behind the crimes, town, police and the family overwrought, overdone and overly lurid.
The American Girl was just an okay read for me - I followed through to the end to see if my suspicions were correct. Have a look for yourself - read an excerpt of The American Girl.
"Kate Horsley’s first novel, The Monster’s Wife, was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Best British Crime Stories. She coedits Crimeculture, a site dedicated to crime fiction and film offering articles, reviews, and interviews with writers." Find out more about Kate at her website, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+. See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.