People Like Us, the debut novel by Dana Mele, starts strong. High school friends at an elite boarding school find a classmate’s body in a lake. Mele keeps the reader trying to guess whodunit straight through to the end.
From the publisher:
Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit.
But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple. The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation.
But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.
People Like Us is extremely well-plotted. I had trouble figuring out with any confidence whodunit. The complication of a posthumous tech-driven blackmail scheme adds more difficulty to Kay’s attempts to solve the murder and clear her name.
People Like Us also offers commentary on the typical high school relationships, friendships and cliques, the feeling of being included or excluded, part of the in-crowd or an outsider. It features LGBTQ+ relationships as matter-of-fact, which I appreciated.
While the tone and style are very different, if you enjoyed One Of Us Is Lying, by Karen McManus, or Little Monsters, by Kara Thomas, I’d recommend you read People Like Us.