Kill All Your Darlings

Berkley. Jul. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780593198667. $27. SUSPENSE
Bell (The Request; Layover) begins his novel set in a small college town, where creative writing professor Connor Nye celebrating is the publication of his thriller My Best Friend’s Murder. It’s been a rough couple of years; Connor’s wife and son died five years ago in an accident, but now things are looking up. Publishing a novel has secured his position at Commonwealth College. When his former student Madeline O’Brien, who disappeared two years ago, shows up at his house, he’s shocked. Madeline wrote My Best Friend’s Murder as her thesis, and Connor, thinking she was dead, purloined it and passed it off as his own. Now Madeline wants to be paid. This is just the beginning of Connor’s troubles. The police come knocking, saying “his” novel has a crime in it that closely resembles the real-life murder of a local woman—a friend of Madeline’s. Then another murder occurs, and the cops suspect Connor. Bell jumps between timelines and points of view in this meaty book that also looks at campus politics, sexual harassment, plagiarism, and domestic violence. Readers may figure out whodunit before Connor does, but the ride to get there is enjoyable.
VERDICT This one will please aficionados of campus crime stories and novels about writers and academic skullduggery.
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