I think that this book was a bit all over the place for me to get a very good handle on. We have a lot of characters whose motivations we are not too sure of throughout the book. I think that Kang was trying for some tension to build about who was the murderer, but it was telegraphed at least to me pretty early about who was doing what. I will say that I was a surprised by the ending. I thought for sure that two of the characters were being set up to run away together, so that was a pleasant surprise.
Taking place during the Spanish Influenza in New York, we have a series of murders that revolves around three childhood friends: Allene, Jasper, and Birdie. At one time Jasper and Birdie were extremely close with Allene. But one day, Allene's parents sent Birdie and her mother away (they were companions to Allene's mother's family for generations) and then Jasper was "not our kind dear" when his family left him in financial ruins. When a member of their circle is poisoned, the three friends band together to find out who murdered this person and why. Pretty soon the body count starts to rise and you are left wondering if these three people really know each other at all.
I didn't have a favorite character to root for while reading this. Kang really does not try to develop any of the characters until almost the very end. Maybe it would have worked if she had given us a prologue to them as children all playing together. Instead we start in the middle of a story and we are left to just get that the three characters are friends and know each other so well.
Also I have to say that Kang doesn't paint any of them very well. When you get to the end and get to the final reveal about a lot of people I ended up feeling very sympathetic to Birdie's mother of all people.
The writing was okay, I just wish that there had been more there, there you know. I just found a lot of the bits about chemistry, cyanide, the Spanish flu to be boring. And that should have been the most interesting part of the story.
The flow wasn't great. We kind of shuffle around to Allene, Jasper, and Birdie and back and forth again and again until the end.
Even though the book takes place during the early 1900s, I didn't get a very good sense of New York during this time period. The author mentions clothes, how the young women behave, etc. But I really didn't get a true sense of the time period which was a shame.
As I already said the ending was a surprise so that was nice.