Lisa Scottoline’s books tend to be hit or miss for me. Her legal thrillers featuring a team of female lawyers are some of my favorite courtroom dramas, but her standalones don’t always work well. Her latest, Someone Knows, is the story of four friends who are keeping a terrible secret from the world, and while it doesn’t come close to the excellence of some of her legal thrillers, I found it to be pretty enjoyable.
Fifteen-year-old Allie has never been popular, and up until pretty recently, this hasn’t bothered her all that much. She and her sister Jill were best friends, but after Jill dies from Cystic Fibrosis, Allie is left feeling alone and adrift. Her mother rarely gets out of bed, and her father is obsessed with raising money in hopes of one day curing the terrible disease that shattered their family’s happiness, and it’s all Allie can do to get through the days. But when she comes upon three of the most popular kids in the neighborhood burying a gun in the woods, Allie begins to wonder if she just might be on the road to popularity. Sasha, David and Julian now seem eager to spend time with her, and even though Allie isn’t always sure she likes the three of them, she feels strangely honored to be included in their summer activities.
Things change when Kyle, a new kid in town, tries to join their group. Julian is particularly opposed to his presence, seeing him as a rival for Sasha’s affection, and in an attempt to scare him off, Julian orders him to dig up the gun and play Russian Roulette. No one else is particularly fond of this idea, but no one wants to go against Julian’s wishes, so Kyle eventually complies, and as you might imagine, ends up dead.
The four surviving teens run home, and when the police eventually find Kyle’s body, they assume he committed suicide. Allie wants to come clean, but the others urge her to keep quiet, and the secret is kept for the next twenty years.
On the twentieth anniversary of Kyle’s death, one of the four teenagers commits suicide, and the remaining three come together for the first time since the night Kyle died. As they try to unravel the truth surrounding the recent death, they find themselves wondering if some unknown person knows what happened all those years ago… and if this person may be planning to kill the rest of them.
The above summary might be a bit confusing, but I really can’t make things much clearer without spoiling things for you. This is one of those books that doesn’t fully make sense until you’re pretty close to the end. There are a lot of characters, each with his or her own secrets to keep, so it’s almost impossible to know who to trust.
Ms. Scottoline does a fantastic job showing the power of peer pressure. Allie knows what Julian has proposed is not a good idea, but she doesn’t feel like she’s powerful enough to go against him. I can remember feeling that way when I was a teenager, and Ms. Scottoline manages to imbue the early portions of the book with just the right amount of teenaged angst.
The novel contains quite a few twists, most of which did manage to surprise me. However, I’m not sure one story needs quite so many surprises. It felt a little bit like the author was trying too hard to trick the reader, and I freely admit to being a bit tired of it by the time I reached the final page.
My biggest problem with the book has to do with the number of perspectives the reader is exposed to. I’m normally a big fan of multiple points of view, but Ms. Scottoline goes a little overboard here. There are no less than twelve different narrators, each of whom has something to do with what happened to Kyle, which gives the story a very fragmented feel – and the constant shift in perspective didn’t help.
I didn’t dislike Someone Knows, but I would have enjoyed it far more if the author had chosen a different method of storytelling. As it was, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by the volume of information I had to keep straight, so it was sometimes difficult to remain invested in the plights of the various characters. Having said that, readers who don’t mind large casts of characters with conflicting storylines will probably find a lot to love about Ms. Scottoline’s latest novel.