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Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead by Jenny Hollander

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead by Jenny Hollander

Jenny Hollander’s debut thriller has an intriguing title – Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead. And an intriguing premise. Set nine years after a tragedy at a famous journalism school in New York and based around one of the survivors of that tragedy still experiencing post traumatic stress and guilt. But the title itself is a little bit misleading. It takes almost the whole of the book to find out what actually happened on the night in question and, more importantly, who actually died. This allows for a few late narrative twists that are actually based on reader assumptions rather than anything specifically mentioned in the story.

Charlotte  ‘Charlie’ Colbert is an English expat who came to the prestigious Carroll school of Journalism in New York where she witnessed a tragedy. Nine years later she is the successful editor of a popular Sunday supplement of a large newspaper, has a wealthy fiancé and seems to have her life on track. But news that one of the others involved in her past life, sister of one of the victims and also a bit of a media star, is making a movie of the events of nine years before, throws Charlie’s world into a spin.

Author Jenny Hollander is also a Londoner who went to Columbia Journalism School in New York and is now an editor for Marie Claire. Presumably her studies were not as traumatic as Charlie’s but it does give those sections and her work life a ring of truth which helps support the more outlandish aspects of the narrative.

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead has a great premise but depends on a bit of a thriller chestnut – selective amnesia. Charlie does not actually remember what happened on the night in question. She feels that she lied to police because she told them what she thought happened rather than what she knew happened. Nine years later and only now does she decide that she needs to dig those memories out, and even then the process is fraught. The narrative also plays the actual events of the night close to its chest so that readers are not quite sure exactly who was there, who was injured and who was killed until very near the end. Because, opposed to the title, it turns out that possibly there are some people who can forgive Charlie who may not actually be dead. And also, once she actually remembers everything, it is possible that Charlie has less to seek forgiveness for than she thought

Overall Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead has a few too many contrivances and plot holes to be truly successful. But for those who don’t mind that, who like a fast paced thriller with plenty of twists and a sympathetic (if not always reliable) main character then this book will scratch an itch.

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Wrap Up

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead by Jenny Hollander



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