Description: On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.
Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.
As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?
Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.
“The American Girl” by Kate Horsley is an intriguing thriller about American exchange student Quinn Perkins who gets wrapped up in the secrets of a small French town. The host family, the Blavettes, consist of a former school headmistress and mother of two teenage children – Noémie and Raphael.
This noir novel begins with Quinn running and stumbling out of the woods naked only to be hit by a car when she finally makes it to the road. The mystery around her appearance and the fact that she’s a foreign exchange student quickly creates buzz and makes headlines around the world, bringing journalist Molly Swift to town desperate for a scoop. Pretending to be Quinn’s aunt, Molly and Quinn bond and quickly develop a sort of closeness in which Molly anxiously tries to solve the case in hopes of absolving Quinn.
Consistently switching between Molly’s perspective and Quinn’s, as well as piecing together former posts from Quinn’s blog, the reader is given insight into what drives these two characters while trying to piece together the mystery of what happened to Quinn in the woods and why the Blavettes all disappeared.
One of the most interesting aspects is that this novel is inspired by a true-crime case making it that much more disturbing and realistic. In fact, just last week a 19-year old American exchange student was found dead in Rome (The Guardian). Horsley’s novel is not only relevant, but extremely disconcerting to think about because most people equate exchange programs with school, adventure, and opportunity. No one ever thinks about the potential dangers lurking in a foreign country surrounded by complete strangers.
From the style to the content, this book keeps you guessing until the very end and is a definite must-read for anyone who likes a good mystery.
*I received this book through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.