Sharon McKay is on trial for her best friend Ann Rice’s murder. Never mind that there’s no body, no real witnesses, and no evidence. Sharon and Ann’s friends saw them hike up to the cliff that night and heard Ann scream “Don’t!” before she either fell or was pushed off the cliff. Everybody seems to be convinced that Sharon killed Ann.
Scenes of the trial from Sharon’s POV alternate between scenes prior to the accident/murder from Ann’s POV. What Sharon didn’t know was that Ann was obsessed. Ann’s brother, Jerry, had loved Sharon and had killed himself after their relationship ended. Ann blamed Sharon and wanted her to suffer. What better way to do that than frame her for murder, thereby ruining her bright future? (I’m sure you can think of better and less risky ways she could have gotten her revenge, but just roll with it.)
I loved Christopher Pike’s books when I was a teen. They haven’t held up quite as well for me now that I’m an adult, but I can understand why Teen Me loved them: they almost always have shocking revelations and riveting banana pants moments.
The first half of this book was a straightforward murder...story. I can’t really call it a mystery, because everything was laid out for readers to see: Ann’s motive, her plan, who she decided to involve. All of it by page 32. The main question seemed to be “Did Ann survive her regrettably complicated plan or not?”
However, I trust Pike to always find a way to complicate things, and about halfway through the book he did just that. Bad things happened during Ann's plan. A character I hadn’t paid much attention to did something unexpected. Yes! Great fun up ahead!
Except not so much. Honestly, this book could have used more banana pantsery. Pike used up what little there was too quickly and put everything out in the open too fast. The ending was just...boring. And a little too silly to take seriously. I couldn’t help but laugh at all the kiss-related dialogue at the end. Paraphrasing: “You’re a bad kisser!” “No, you are!” “That was the best kiss I ever had. Really!” Oh, just stop it.
I almost missed the epilogue because the last couple pages were slightly stuck together. If anything, the epilogue actually made things worse, adding “depressing” to “mediocre” in the list of words I’d use to describe this book. I was not a fan of the implication that Sharon might have to pay her lawyer back with sexual favors, or settle for a lesser lawyer. I suppose the “it’s going to cost you” could have been referring to money, but there were a few lines earlier on that suggested otherwise. In general, I’m not surprised that the ending was changed for the made-for-TV movie (although Wikipedia’s description of the changed ending makes it sound like more of a mess than an improvement).
One more thing: I imagine the courtroom scenes would make actual lawyers and judges cringe. I’m pretty sure that real lawyers can’t get away with telling objecting lawyers to shut up (yes, he actually said that out loud, but the judge was so dazzled by the story he was laying out that he didn’t say anything).
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)