Book review: Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander

Tuesday, August 8, 2023 Permalink

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander was another freebie in my goody bag at Harrogate’s Theakston Crime Writing Festival in July. Given the state (ie. heaviness) of my luggage, I made a concerted effort to read some of the ARCs while overseas and leave them behind for others to find and enjoy.

Weirdly I’d just read another book about a ‘survivor’ and their guilt (or lies) so this book seemed most apt… although it’s actually quite different and is less about someone lying than about a survivor who’s pushed away memories of a tragic event from a decade earlier.

Book review: Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny HollanderEveryone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead
by Jenny Hollander
Published by Minotaur Books
on 06/02/2024
Source: Publicist
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 1250890845
Pages: 301

It's been nine years since Charlotte Colbert witnessed the horrific events the tabloids dubbed 'Scarlet Christmas'. That's how she was named in the police reports - a witness, though Charlie knows she was far more than that. But thanks to a cocktail of therapy, work, and severed friendships, Charlie has finally moved on: she's soon-to-be married and the editor-in-chief of a major magazine. Even the press has finally stopped harassing her.

But Charlie shouldn't have let her guard down. Suddenly 'Scarlet Christmas' - named for the bloody scene paramedics stumbled across on Christmas Eve at the prestigious Carroll University - is being adapted for film, with Charlie's classmate promising the public that, this time, they'll get to find out what really happened. With everything at stake, Charlie must decide how far she'll go to stop the past that haunts her from colliding with her shiny present.

When we meet Charlie she’s the successful editor of a weekend magazine supplement and engaged to a wealthy (and nice!!!!) American heir to a publishing fortune. So she’s fallen on her feet for someone who arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed a decade earlier to attend the prestigious Carroll University School of Journalism in New York from the UK.

We learn that only four months after her arrival there was a tragedy (Scarlet Christmas) that resulted in several deaths. Charlie was one of a few survivors (perhaps the sole survivor – long story and #spoiler) but has refrained from speaking out about the tragedy since. Despite a book about the events and significant media attention.

She feels she’s put it behind her (and her fragile family back in the UK) when she learns of plans to film a ‘factional’ account of events and – worried about how she’ll be portrayed – sets out to have the film cancelled.

I felt like Hollander gave us some support characters who brought this to life, including Charlie’s childhood bestie (the kind we all need, who have our backs NO MATTER WHAT) and (even) Tripp, her fianc√©.

Although the flow of the plot focuses on the film’s genesis, readers will be more focussed on Charlie’s reaction and revelations.

Of course the interesting thing is here is that Charlie herself doesn’t remember much about the events of that night. She has some memories but they implicate her in the events of the evening. However it’s only now – almost a decade on – she’s asked her long-term therapist to help unlock that night.

I liked the final reveals that Hollander offers up here but it did feel as if she’d purposely kept things from readers which does make it hard for us to guess what happens. Which is understandable (ahem, fair) when it comes to secrets characters are keeping from others but less-so when they’re things the characters themselves don’t know. That aside, I liked the direction she takes things even if I did perhaps feel like justice (or rather karma) wasn’t entirely served).

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander will be published in early 2024 by Minotaur Books.

I received an advance copy of this book when at Theakston Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate in July 2023. 


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